Bitcoin's Energy Bill : Planet Money The computers that mine Bitcoin use a lot of electricity. That's created some unique arbitrage opportunities in different parts of the world. And causing governments some concern.
NPR logo

Bitcoin's Energy Bill

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/741216855/741306231" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
Bitcoin's Energy Bill

Bitcoin's Energy Bill

Bitcoin's Energy Bill

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/741216855/741306231" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images
A picture taken on February 6, 2018 shows a visual representation of the digital crypto-currency Bitcoin, at the "Bitcoin Change" shop in the Israeli city of Tel Aviv.
JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images

A single Bitcoin is worth more than $11,000 — or it was at the time of publication — so mining Bitcoin can be a lucrative business. But the mining process isn't cost-free. Computers have to solve highly complex puzzles to unearth a Bitcoin, and that computing power consumes a vast amount of electricity. Because the cost of power varies widely from country to country, Bitcoin miners have made a business out of moving their server farms from place to place, to give themselves the highest profit margin possible. That's beginning to get the attention of governments worried that these miners might turn into power hogs, who might exploit social programs to suck up the electricity they need.

Music by Drop Electric. Find us: Twitter / Facebook / Newsletter.

Subscribe to our show on Apple Podcasts, PocketCasts and NPR One.