Its consumption is roughly the same as Ireland’s Bitcoin and most other cryptocurrencies are founded on the notion of an immutable ledger, called the blockchain, which comprises transfers of value from one party to another. Cryptocurrency “miners” seek results to a kind of algorithmic puzzle that fits a very specific set of requirements.

Every ten minutes on average, a server finds an acceptable solution, and the miner gets a reward from the bitcoin system. Currently they get 12.5 bitcoins (worth around $85,000) and about $1,000 in transaction fees.

The miner’s combination of solution and transactions is also added to the blockchain. The new block does not become a de facto part of the ledger until a few more blocks are added, because valid solutions are sometimes found simultaneously, and it is not always clear straightaway which will become the longest, winning fork in the chain.

To ensure that coins cannot be minted too quickly, as the overall network’s computational power increases, the bitcoin protocol continually makes it harder to find a putative solution. Every 2016 blocks (roughly every two weeks), the system is recalibrated.

Miners are obliged therefore to keep upgrading in order to earn rewards as fast as competitors. And more computing power requires more electricity. Read more from economist.com…

thumbnail courtesy of economist.com