The value of Bitcoin has fluctuated widely since the pioneering cryptocurrency’s debut in 2009. Middling at less than $20 for much of its early tenure, Bitcoin soared to an all-time high of $979.45 in December 2013 before fluctuating approximately between $200 and $400 over the past year. However, Bitcoin’s true costs are hidden in this traditional market valuation. In order to obtain Bitcoins, one must “mine” them using a computer rig, and these high-performance computers have high energyneeds. One analysis of the cryptocurrency projects that by 2020, global Bitcoin mining could consume as much electricity as the entire country of Denmark.
Bitcoin is a peer-to-peer currency that can be transferred between individuals without a governing body or bank acting as intermediary. A program incorporates the value and present circulation of coins to steadily generate new Bitcoins. As the currency has aged, the mining of new Bitcoins has grown more energy intensive. The current extraction rate of Bitcoins uses approximately 350 megawatts, enough to power 280,000 American homes. Current Bitcoin demand also requires a mining network infrastructure that weighs over 10,000 metric tons.
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