This is excerpted from this early 2018 Guardian article: Bitcoin’s energy usage is huge – we can’t afford to ignore it: www.theguardian.com.
“Bitcoin’s electricity usage is enormous. In November , the power consumed by the entire bitcoin network was estimated to be higher than that of the Republic of Ireland. Since then, its demands have only grown. It’s now on pace to use just over 42TWh of electricity in a year, placing it ahead of New Zealand and Hungary and just behind Peru, according to estimates from Digiconomist. That’s commensurate with CO2 emissions of 20 megatonnes – or roughly 1m transatlantic flights.
In simplified terms, bitcoin mining is a competition to waste the most electricity possible by doing pointless arithmetic quintillions of times a second. The more electricity you burn, and the faster your computer, the higher your chance of winning the competition. The prize? 12.5 bitcoin – still worth over $100,000 – plus all the transaction fees paid in the past 10 minutes, which according analysts’ estimates is another $2,500 or so.”
Also see: “Here’s the Short History of Bitcoin – As Told Through the Five Different Groups Who Bought It“: www.alternet.org.