A visual representation of the digital cryptocurrency Bitcoin. The energy footprint of bitcoin mining is beginning to outstrip the Republic’s entire energy consumption, according to research from Maynooth University.

Bitcoin is one of the first cryptocurrencies, which are digital currencies that use cryptography to control their creation and management, instead of relying on central banks. Bitcoin mining is the process by which transactions are verified and added to a public ledger, also known as the blockchain.

It is also the means through which new bitcoin are released. There are now approximately 16,800,000 bitcoins in circulation, according to cryptocurrency experts Coindesk.

This number has been accompanied by significant growth in bitcoin mining activity since the cryptocurrency was released into the market in 2009. Having reached record value highs in 2017, bitcoin has experienced a high level of volatility in recent weeks.

In December 2017, a unit of bitcoin was worth over $19,000. By January, a unit was valued at just over $17,000, which has since fallen to below $6,000. Read more from irishtimes.com…

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