The High Energy Cost Of Bitcoin’s Rise

4:48 minutes

Credit: Shutterstock

Whatever your take on investing in cryptocurrencies, the boom for bitcoin is also a boom for cheap coal power in China, where much of the energy-intensive computational ‘mining’ process takes place. Recent estimates indicate that the power consumption from bitcoin transactions is roughly on par with the nation of Denmark—and it could go up if the currency’s value and popularity continues to explode.

Why so dirty? Amy Nordrum, associate editor at IEEE Spectrum, explains. Plus, the prospects for a more sustainable kind of blockchain.

Support great science journalism!

Segment Guests

Amy Nordrum

Amy Nordrum is an editor at MIT Technology Review. Previously, she was News Editor at IEEE Spectrum in New York City.

Meet the Producer

About Christie Taylor

Christie Taylor is a producer for Science Friday. Her day involves diligent research, too many phone calls for an introvert, and asking scientists if they have any audio of that narwhal heartbeat.

Explore More