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Study claims Bitcoin energy consumption is exploding — leaving us totally rekt

Bitcoin is the way of the future — as long as that future just so happens to include shocking levels of energy consumption increasing at a jaw dropping rate. 

So claims a new study published yesterday in Joule which, unfortunately for all the hodlers out there, paints a pretty dire picture. Specifically, one painted in ash. It says that by the end of this year Bitcoin electricity use could triple, approaching the consumption rates of the entire country of Austria. 

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Which, yeah. That's not good. The conclusion of the peer-reviewed paper, written by Alex de Vries, is brutal. 

"These methods tell us that the Bitcoin network consumes at least 2.55 GW of electricity currently, and that it could reach a consumption of 7.67 GW in the future, making it comparable with countries such as Ireland (3.1 GW) and Austria (8.2 GW)," he writes. 

And just in case you were thinking that, well, using only as much electricity as Ireland isn't too bad, Vries drops another hammer. 

"Additionally, economic models tell us that Bitcoin's electricity consumption will gravitate toward the latter figure," he notes — with latter in this case being the 8.2 GW. "A look at Bitcoin miner production estimates suggests that this figure could already be reached in 2018."

This is not the first time we've heard wild claims about Bitcoin's energy consumption. After all, it takes a lot of power to run all those mining rigs. However, Joule is a peer-reviewed publication, which adds weight to Vries's study. 

Importantly, it's not like things are great at this moment either. According to Vries, "[the] Bitcoin network can be estimated to consume at least 2.55 gigawatts of electricity currently."

But not everyone buys the doom and gloom. Will Martino, founder of the distributed digital ledger company Kadena, told Mashable that while Vries's estimates of present Bitcoin electricity consumption look "at least somewhat accurate," and that "it's out of control," he imagines a future that has addressed many of these issues. 

“Over time these things will stabilize," explained Martino. "I doubt it is going to keep going at that rate."

He went on to add while we should expect Bitcoin energy use to continue to increase in the short term, over the next decade it should eventually come back down.

"[It's an] artifact of the stage that we’re at in crypto,” he noted. “[The] longer term is less of a concern because we’ll have greener energy in general.”

In other words, there's still hope that our distributed blockchain-enabled future won't be a pollution-filled one. And anyway, even if the optimists are wrong, there's always a survivalist bunker or two that the crypto super rich can hide out in.

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