For the first time ever, the Bitcoin market value has just topped $1 trillion. That's great news for crypto investors! Unfortunately, it also means the currency's energy consumption demands are skyrocketing with it. According to recent reports, the complicated computational algorithms that enable cryptomining are now using more energy than the entire country of Argentina, up from 2019 when it was "just" the equivalent of Sweden.
Put another way: If Bitcoin were a country, its 121.36 terawatt-hours (TWh) per year energy budget would place it in the top 30 energy-consuming nations in the world. (Ethereum, another popular cryptocurrency, is reportedly trying to address this.)
But some savvy cryptominers have found a way to use this to their advantage. As long as they're spending money to power computers to run algorithms to verify digital financial exchanges, they figure they may as well reap the benefits. From the Wall Street Journal:
In the pandemic's early days, photographer Thomas Smith funneled heat through a tube from a computer he uses mainly for mining bitcoin to maintain a small greenhouse in his garage. It yielded fresh basil and heirloom cherry tomatoes.
"It was like those heaters on a restaurant patio," he said. "I made a caprese salad."
Now Mr. Smith, who lives in Lafayette, Calif., is experimenting with using his computer to heat at night a coop he recently set up in his backyard for two chickens. "It's chilly out there," he said, though he is concerned about the birds' safety. "I don't want to overheat them."
Rebecca Ratchford hasn't had to raise the thermostat this winter in her three-bedroom Cary, N.C., home, where she has been working remotely as an administrative assistant since the pandemic began. Her custom-built computer gives off plenty of warm air, she said, especially during intense battles in "Destiny 2," the science-fiction shooter game.
You can also technically use that excess computer processor heat to cook the eggs you harvest from your Bitcoin-warmed chicken coop, but I wouldn't recommend it.
Chilly This Winter? Cozy Up to the Computer That's Mining Bitcoin [Sarah E. Needleman / Wall Street Journal]
Bitcoin's wild ride renews worries about its massive carbon footprint [Ryan Browne / CNBC]
Image: Onov3056/Wikimedia Commons (CC-BY-SA 4.0) and Public Domain via Good Free Photos (Altered)