Will Bitcoin Mining Consume All The World's Current Electricity Production By Feb 2020?

Tyler Durden's picture

Via PowerCompare.co.uk,

Bitcoin’s ongoing meteoric price rise has received the bulk of recent press attention with a lot of discussion around whether or not it’s a bubble waiting to burst.

However, most the coverage has missed out one of the more interesting and unintended consequences of this price increase. That is the surge in global electricity consumption used to “mine” more Bitcoins.

How Does Bitcoin Mining Consume Electricity?

At a very basic level Bitcoin mining requires expensive and power hungry computer hardware. As the the IEEE explains:

Mining power is high and getting higher, thanks to a computational arms race. Recall that the required number of zeros at the beginning of a hash is tweaked biweekly to adjust the difficulty of creating a block—and more zeros means more difficulty.


The Bitcoin algorithm adds these zeros in order to keep the rate at which blocks are added constant, at one new block every 10 minutes. The idea is to compensate for the mining hardware becoming more and more powerful.


When the hashing is harder, it takes more computations to create a block and thus more effort to earn new bitcoins, which are then added to circulation.

According to Digiconomist’s Bitcoin Energy Consumption Index, as of Monday November 20th, 2017 Bitcoin’s current estimated annual electricity consumption stands at 29.05TWh.

That’s the equivalent of 0.13% of total global electricity consumption. While that may not sound like a lot, it means Bitcoin mining is now using more electricity than 159 individual countries (as you can see from the map below). More than Ireland or Nigeria.

If Bitcoin miners were a country they’d rank 61st in the world in terms of electricity consumption.

Here are a few other interesting facts about Bitcoin mining and electricity consumption:

  • In the past month alone, Bitcoin mining electricity consumption is estimated to have increased by 29.98%
  • If it keeps increasing at this rate, Bitcoin mining will consume all the world’s electricity by February 2020.
  • Estimated annualised global mining revenues: $7.2 billion USD (£5.4 billion)
  • Estimated global mining costs: $1.5 billion USD (£1.1 billion)
  • Number of Americans who could be powered by bitcoin mining: 2.4 million (more than the population of Houston)
  • Number of Britons who could be powered by bitcoin mining: 6.1 million (more than the population of Birmingham, Leeds, Sheffield, Manchester, Bradford, Liverpool, Bristol, Croydon, Coventry, Leicester & Nottingham combined) Or Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.
  • Bitcoin Mining consumes more electricity than 12 US states (Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont and Wyoming)

All maps created using Mapchart.net.

Bitcoin Mining Electricity Consumption Vs Countries

The map above shows which countries currently consume more or less electricity than that consumed by global Bitcoin mining.

The map below shows how much more or less bitcoin mining energy consumption compares to each countries energy usage with 100% being equal.

E.g. Ireland currently consumes an estimated 25 TWh of electricity per year, so global Bitcoin mining consumption is 116%, or 16% more than they consume. The UK consumes an estimated 309 TWh of electricity per year so global Bitcoin mining consumption is only equivalent to 9.4% of the UK total.

Bitcoin Mining as percentage of each country's electricity usage

Global Bitcoin Mining consumption compared to each country’s electricity consumption

The map below shows which countries in Europe consume more or less electricity than Bitcoin mining:

Bitcoin Mining Electricity Consumption Vs European Countries

Which European countries consume more or less electricity than the amount consumed by global bitcoin mining

As mentioned, above the data for Bitcoin mining energy consumption comes from the Bitcoin Energy Consumption Index. You can read about their assumptions here.

Electricity consumption data mostly comes from the CIA via Wikipedia and is mostly for 2014, since that’s the most recent year available. Unlike some other sources it includes, residential, commercial and industrial use, so may be higher than other figures quoted elsewhere.

Bitcoin Mining Electricity Consumption Vs US States

While doing the research we also though it might be interesting to compare Bitcoin mining energy consumption to US states. So we created the map below:

Bitcoin Mining Electricity Consumption Vs US States

Overall, 12 States consume less electricity than Bitcoin Mining (Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont and Wyoming).

Growth of Bitcoin Mining Electricity Consumption

Growth of Bitcoin Mining Electricity Consumption

While Bitcoin Mining is only currently consuming 0.13% of the world’s electricity output, it’s growing incredibly quickly.

The Bitcoin Energy Consumption Index estimates consumption has increased by 29.98% over the past month.

If that growth rate were to continue, and countries did not add any new power generating capacity, Bitcoin mining would:

  • Be greater than UK electricity consumption by October 2018 (309 TWh)
  • Be greater than US electricity consumption by July 2019 (3,913 TWh)
  • Consume all the world’s electricity by February 2020. (21,776 TWh)

The Cost of Mining Bitcoins

The Bitcoin Energy Consumption Index estimates that the total annual cost of mining Bitcoins stands at $1.5 billion (£1.1 billion).

However, that assumes Bitcoin mining is occurring in places with cheap electricity (not an unreasonable assumption).

The US average retail price per kilowatthour is 10.41 cents, which means using 28.05 TWh would cost: $3.02 billion (£2.28 billion).

In the UK it would even more expensive, assuming you paid the rock bottom price of 10.10 pence per kilowatthour (Bulb’s prices for London homes) it would still cost £2.93 billion ($3.89 billion).

Interestingly, Bitcoin’s price increase over the last month has been just over 40%, which is greater than the increase in electricity consumption.

This means the estimated annualised global mining revenues now stand at $7.2 billion USD (£5.4 billion), which even at the more expensive estimates listed above, means it’s still very profitable.

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Thoresen's picture

So Bitcoin will increase global warming and wipe out all electricity availability with 3 years? Who'd have thought?

BurningFuld's picture







Antifaschistische's picture

I am still completely convinced IT guys, who work for organizations over 2,000 employees, have these mining operations running inside their data centers, allocating massive amounts of virtual computing power to the operation...perhaps during non-peak hours, while punching whatever hole they need through the firewall.

..this allows the miners to 'mine' at no cost (to themselves), so it doesn't matter how "expensive" it gets.

...and, will McAfee and the security software guys have sniffers for mining traffic?  not my world there....but I've never heard of it.

tmosley's picture

Totally ignorant article and totally ignorant comments.

The electricity consumption of the BTC/BCH network will increase in line with price, which is currently rising exponentially, but won't do so forever (again, it is and will continue to follow the technological adoption S-curve). The consumption of electricity is definitely a FEATURE, as any attack on the network has to overcome the entire amount of energy the network expends times the total amount of hash power the network has. Even the dimmest oldbug should be able to see that that simply is not economical, even for a nation state!

NoDebt's picture

"it is and will continue to follow the technological adoption S-curve"

Holy shit, I actually agree with tmosley on something.  No geometric function just shoots off to infinity without constrain in the real world.  If it consumes all the world's electricty production by 2020 then it will consume all the energy in the known universe by the end of the century.  Seems unlikely to me.


1 Alabama's picture

now the value of bitcoin was that there were only so many bitcoins created and none more could be added, ergo the rise in price via supply and demand. This nut is basing his article on the amt of juice it takes to create a bitcoin, did u want some cocaine to go w/that fentinal?

bonin006's picture

I am wondering how many feet of manure are currently covering the streets in London. In 1894 it was projected by the Times of London that the streets would be under 9 feet of manure in 50 years. Presumably it would be much deeper by now. I have not been there, but some recent videos I have seen indicate some problems with certain immigrants, but I saw no evidence of any problem from deposits of horse waste.  Does anyone here have any first hand information. I also recall that similar projections were made regarding NY City, but I cannot find any evidence that such a problem occurred there either. It seems strange that experts could apparently be completely wrong in both cases, so I must be missing something.

SafelyGraze's picture

"Bitcoin mining is now using more electricity than 159 individual countries"

this is why we need a "whole of government" approach so that the department of energy use more electricity on computing






IH8OBAMA's picture

Don't worry.  The Bitcon miners will provide tmosley with an electricity generating stationary bicycle to help create the needed extra electricity.  I just hope he starts showering at least daily once he gets the bicycle.


a Smudge by any other name's picture

Might not be such an issue just now but fuck with my AC come summer and I'm gonna kick your crypto assets right up to your digital dentures.

"Those about to fry refute you."

Creative_Destruct's picture

Don't worry we'll obtain ALL the extra juice we need by carpeting the deserts with solar panels and all of the plains, mountain tops and passes and the near offshore with whirly gigs...  and by stirnging an extra 4-6 $Trill in smart grid ...OH YEAH and by "conserving" ... (HA!!!....NOT...at least not voluntarily... get ready for the culling of the herd).

bluez's picture

CRYPTOCURRENCY!!! Can't make jewelry with it, can't eat it, can't make any practical use of it for even one minute ever. However, everybody wants it BECAUSE EVERYBODY WANTS IT!!! Even though IT HAS ABSOLUTELY NO ACTUAL VALUE WHATSOEVER!!!

We need not worry too much about the (hypothetical) future of cryptocurrencies. They are primarily harbingers of what is to come. We have traded essential expertise, such as knowledge of physics or medicine, for artificial expertise, such as knowledge of proprietary software or abstract financial instruments. And also we have traded essential utilities, such as energy or food, for abstract artificial utilities, such as licenses or Bitcoin. We are burning fuel to create cryptocurrency, for example.

This is an omen,  a symptom of advancing civilizational entropy, leading to civilizational collapse. Don't worry about the future of Bitcoin. Worry about your own future, which the advent of Bitcoin presages.

Tarzan's picture

Whoever controls the grid, and the internet kill switch, controls your crypto. 

In the end, when we all have an assigned number for a name, the oligarchs will dictate what currency you use, and how and what you buy and sell. 

Crypto is a trap!

auricle's picture

Consumer rates for electricity, if they are not already, are going to skyrocket if this is allowed to continue much longer. 

tenpanhandle's picture

Say what you want; the shit is very high in both places you mention.

MonetaryApostate's picture

NuclearCoin to the rescue.. 

zxbkajbs91bckzosaku28r5's picture

In an unforeseen twist, Bitcoin will be the impetus for building Dyson spheres.

Armies of self-assembling nanobots will propagate through the galaxy building stellar megastrucutres. One by one the stars will go dark as the bots encapsulate them to harness 100% of their energy.

The solution to the Fermi paradox is that the aliens invented cryptocurrencies and ceased all endeavours other than computing more hashes.

any_mouse's picture

Thanks for mentioning the S curve.


Speculative Bitcoin Adoption/Price Theory

"Amara’s Law:

“We tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the long run.”

"Basically, for anything new there is a mad flurry of excitement over potential applications, followed by the realization that most of them don’t work, followed by a slow learning of what does work, followed by sustained progress."

"a bitcoin bubble does not reach a steady state of gradual increase. As mentioned before, it must continue to follow the exponentially increasing path of the S-curve. Why then does it follow the hype cycle at all? This is because the nature of bitcoin investment is almost entirely speculative. Speculation is driven, in large measure, by hype."

Repeat for emphasis:
"This is because the nature of bitcoin investment is almost entirely speculative. Speculation is driven, in large measure, by hype."

The S curve's Y axis is percent of Market Share. How big is the market for Bitcoin? The 21 million Bitcoins? Everyone who matters using or collecting Bitcoin?

Where do you think Bitcoin is on the S-curve?

tmosley's picture

>Where do you think Bitcoin is on the S-curve?

Bitcoin (Core) has reached the end of its useful life, but crypto will live on.

We have yet to reach 1% adoption. It has quite a ways to go. If Core got their shit together and got those fees down in a sustainable way such that their network was no longer vulnerable, then BTC would have about a 2500x run to go. Far more likely that ETH, BCH, or some other coin takes the top spot within a year. If that is the case, then those coins of course would have far further to run--7500x and 12500x respectively (numbers are all approximate and assume a single victor that takes over the function of broad money in the world economy).

UnacknowledgedX's picture

This open source Lightning wallet operatonal now on testnet processes zero fee transactions instantly. The biggest problem with BCH is AsicBoost which gives a small cabal of miners hidden, excessive and unfair profits. Ver (who knows the status of Lightning) is just a tool of the miner cabal. ETH is not and was not designed to be a store of value. 






Mongoose's picture

A little off topic but, please go ahead and define "excessive profit"...


Back to killin' snakes

unsafe-space-time's picture

Bitcoin will consume all capital. Unless it is exchanged at a just price it will halt production of all goods and service. You are messing with just weights and measures. Bitcoin is  Bizarro fiat. What happens when you mix matter and antimatter? Debt fiat and antidebt negatory fiat?

zxbkajbs91bckzosaku28r5's picture

When the concept of nanotechnology was introduced there was a scare about 'grey goo' (ie) nanomachines converting everything to more nanomachines.

It is now clear that Bitcoin is a virulent memetic entity, a kind of parasitic idea that lodges in humans' minds and persuades them to rearrange all matter into configurations that compute the SHA256 algorithm.

The Bitcoin network will spawn a noneudaimonistic, self-replicating monster (a 'dragon', in the jargon of Hannu Rajaniemi) that devours all life in the solar system. The universe will, once again, be nothing but nonconscious dust.

Better pucker your bungholes mates!

zxbkajbs91bckzosaku28r5's picture

Our descendants will convert Jupiter to computronium. Saturn will soon follow. McAfee will go for Uranus.

Future mathematicians will invent new disciplines and new numbers to describe the Bitcoin price. Only virtual persons running the latest cogsim or cortically-enhanced homo sapiens will be able to follow the price chart and trade history.

zxbkajbs91bckzosaku28r5's picture

There is speculation that it is possible to encode information in the event horizon of a black hole and then to perform infinite computations.

Despite the heat death of the universe, the hashes will continue, slower and slower...

And if we have achieved omega point, our collective consciousness will be fused into these computations, and our cosmic soul will know eternity, one block at a time.

zxbkajbs91bckzosaku28r5's picture

When the last, lonely protons finally decay and time ceases to exist, only BLOCKCHAIN will remain.

Today's Bitcoin investor becomes godlike and partakes of immortality.


Mongoose's picture

You got your medication doses mixed up again, didn't you?


Back to killin' snakes

38BWD22's picture



I agree w/ tmos.  Who cares how much electricity it uses?  That electricity is all PAID FOR (even subsidized in China).

So BTC production uses more electricity than, say, Latvia.  So what?  How much electricity is used by ZH and all of us who comment here?  Who cares?


wulf's picture

Everyone seems to forget the main issue here. Who will pay for the electricity bill? The greater fools?

Bitcoin's calculations are completely useless and generate no actual value (except more and more bitcoins) and, like any currency, it doesn't pay any dividend or produce real products. Since it demands lots of energy and produces nothing, it's a negative-sum game.

The greater fools will pay this electricity bill, and it will not be cheap. It's getting more and more expensive.

Anyway, your reasoning that consumption of electricity is directly proportional to computer power is garbage. Just compare a simple cellphone and the first computer, the ENIAC: the cellphone uses 500000X less power, but is 2300X times more powerful. In the future, perhabs even at this moment, powerful men have access to quantum computers, DNA computing processors, and other technologies, and all buttcoin's hashpower will be nothing to them....

tmosley's picture

>Who will pay for the electricity bill?

The miners. This should be obvious to you.

If the price of energy gets too high, miners will go out of business, the difficulty adjusts downwards, and the equilibrium is maintained.

>Anyway, your reasoning that consumption of electricity is directly proportional to computer power is garbage.

You are hallucinating. I never said that. I said consumption of energy is proportional to the PRICE OF BITCOIN. And the proportion is decreased by half each time the block reward halves.

wulf's picture

Bitcoin mining is actually a business, so certainly most of them sell the coins they generate.

You wrote this: "The consumption of electricity is definitely a FEATURE, as any attack on the network has to overcome the entire amount of energy the network expends times the total amount of hash power the network has."

That's not true, for the reasons I explained.


tmosley's picture

>That's not true, for the reasons I explained.

You posted no such explination. But then, maybe I am suffering from cognitive blindness.

wulf's picture

As I said, miners just transfer the energy and hardware costs to someone else, AKA the greater fools.

It's a business, they mine, they sell. They aren't "hodlers".

Anyway, I don't care. Just be happy with your coinz my friend. I'm not buying them, tho.

38BWD22's picture



All the Bitcoin production is going to China anyway, LOL.  Cheaper electricity!

kochevnik's picture

IN fact bitcoin miner makes perfect house heater

asteroids's picture

Imagine what would happen if Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon, etc... all turned their "idle" cpu's to mining for crypto coin.

Midas's picture

I will tell you what would happen.  They would waste a tremendous amount of electricity with nothing to show for it.  If you aren't using ASICs you are wasting time and money. 

factorypreset's picture

Don't worry. The Fed will just print more electricity.  

MonetaryApostate's picture

+100 for the lulz!


dot.dot's picture

As a former IT security guy I would say you are correct.  Why not do it?  Afterall, who would ever know -other than another SU?  Those machines are up and running 7x24 -often with little to do. 

BarnacleBill's picture

Very clever, Burnie. Gave me my laugh for the day!

phatfawzi's picture

The markets are the efficient vehicle that transfers wealth to the parties that know from the parties that don't know. Based on the comments here, there are a lot of fucking dumb people. 

Raffie's picture

So this will make all the crypto haters happy that instead of EMP, mining will eat all the global electricity.

dasein211's picture

They do realize that there’s proof of stake coins right? That don’t mine.

Raffie's picture

Shhhhhhhhhhh.... let them think other wise..............

Endgame Napoleon's picture

Will the tree huggers put their cryptos above their trees?