About seven gigawatts a year are consumed for Bitcoin's production, according to a new tool from the Cambridge Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index, the Alternative Economics Center, or simply CBECI.
This energy is a little more than what the whole of Switzerland uses, according to CBECI. This number is admittedly very difficult to visualize, which is why the researchers made some comparisons.
It is equal to the 0,21% of the global offer. It is the amount of electricity produced by seven nuclear power plants, Dungeness, according with the BBC.
But does all this energy use contribute to climate change? In other words ... Does Bitcoin boil the oceans?
One study estimates that the electricity used to generate Bitcoin produces about 22 million CO2 emissions a year - a level somewhere between those generated by Jordan and Sri Lanka or almost as much as Kansas City in the US.
The authors of the study, published in the journal Joule in June, say that Bitcoin requires "huge" amounts of electricity to validate transactions through the decentralized protocol, which translates into "significant levels of carbon emissions".
Our approach to Bitcoin's carbon footprint highlights the need to address the external environmental impacts resulting from cryprobes.
Joule's researchers point out that their work underscores the need to address the "external environmental impact of cryptocurrencies" and the need for research to assess the cost-benefit relationship for blockchain applications in general.
We do not question gains from the efficiency that technology could offer blockchain, in some cases. However, today's debate focuses only on the expected benefits, and more attention should be paid to the costs.
They believe that policy makers should pay more attention to Bitcoin's production aspects, as global electricity prices do not reflect future losses caused by current carbon dioxide emissions.
And Cambridge researchers agree: despite the fact that Bitcoin creates a small part of global emissions, there is no reason to ignore the environmental concerns about Vitcoin's energy consumption.
There are concerns that increasing electricity consumption by Bitcoin may pose a threat to achieving the goals of a sustainable development of the United Nations in the future.
However, current data show that, even in the worst case scenario (mining using coal only), Bitcoin's environmental footprint is currently at best marginal.