Is bitcoin worth the energy?

You've probably heard that bitcoin is on an insane roll. But you know what's also crazy? How much energy bitcoin requires.

A Chinese bitcoin mine.
(Image credit: LIU XINGZHE/CHINAFILE/EPA/REX/Shutterstock)

You've probably heard that bitcoin is on an insane roll. The digital currency cleared $17,000 last Thursday, up from $1,292 in March. But you know what's also crazy? How much energy bitcoin requires.

The bitcoin network already consumes an estimated 32.5 terawatt-hours per year. That's more energy than you'd need to power all of Houston. It's more than you'd need to power all of Ireland, and roughly as much as Denmark. Bitcoin miners in China suck lots of clean and cheap electric power from hydroelectric dams.

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