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Bitcoin energy use in Iceland set to overtake homes, says local firm

Bitcoin energy use in Iceland set to overtake homes, says local firm
From BBC - February 12, 2018

Iceland is facing an "exponential" rise in Bitcoin mining that is gobbling up power resources, a spokesman for Icelandic energy firm HS Orka has said.

This year, electricity use at Bitcoin mining data centres is likely to exceed that of all Iceland's homes, according to Johann Snorri Sigurbergsson.

He said many potential customers were keen to get in on the act.

"If all these projects are realised, we wo not have enough energy for it," he told the BBC.

Mr Sigurbergsson's calculations were first reported by the Associated Press.

Iceland has a small population, of around 340,000 people.

But in recent years it has seen a marked increase in the number of new data centres, often built by firms wishing to tout green credentials. Nearly 100% of energy in Iceland comes from renewable sources.

Bitcoin mining refers to the process of connecting computers to the global Bitcoin network and using them to verify transactions between users of the crypto-currency.

'Exponential growth'

The computers that do this verification work receive small Bitcoin rewards for their trouble, making it a lucrative exercise, especially when done at a large scale.

"What we are seeing now is... you can almost call it exponential growth, I think, in the [energy] consumption of data centres," said Mr Sigurbergsson.

He added that he expects Bitcoin mining operations will use around 840 gigawatt hours of electricity to supply data centre computers and cooling systems, for example.

He estimated that homes, in contrast, use around 700 gigawatt hours every year.

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