Estimating Bitcoin Electricity Use: A Beginner’s Guide

Summarizing complexities and pitfalls in analyzing the electricity demand of new information technology, focusing on Bitcoin, the mostly widely used cryptocurrency

The rapid emergence of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies has taken many in the energy sector by surprise. This report summarizes complexities and pitfalls in analyzing the electricity demand of new information technology, focusing on Bitcoin, the mostly widely used cryptocurrency. It also gives best practices for analyses in this space, and reviews recent estimates in light of those best practices. Things change rapidly for cryptocurrency, so special care (such as including an exact date for each estimate) is needed in describing the results of such analyses.

The most reliable estimates of Bitcoin electricity use for June 30, 2018 total about 0.2% of global electricity consumption. Because of the collapse in Bitcoin prices in the latter half of 2018, some estimates indicate that this total has begun to decline, though nobody knows if that trend will continue. Future studies of cryptocurrency electricity use can avoid the pitfalls identified in this report by following some simple rules, which the report describes in more detail.

A direct download of this report is available here.


Based in Washington, D.C., Coin Center is the leading non-profit research and advocacy center focused on the public policy issues facing cryptocurrency and decentralized computing technologies like Bitcoin and Ethereum. Our mission is to build a better understanding of these technologies and to promote a regulatory climate that preserves the freedom to innovate using permissionless blockchain technologies.