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The Bitcoin Network vs. World Banking Energy Consumption

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Introduction: Setting the Stage for a Comparative Analysis

Are digital currencies more energy-efficient than traditional banks? This article examines the energy consumption of the Bitcoin network compared to that of global banking systems. With the growing concern over energy usage in our digital age, understanding these figures is crucial. The study leverages various data sources to generate estimates for Bitcoin and worldwide banking, focusing on major energy consumers like banking data centers and ATMs. Readers will learn not only about the energy costs of these financial systems but also discover that Bitcoin consumes an estimated 36% less energy globally than conventional banking.

Key Takeaways

  • The Bitcoin network consumes an estimated 167.14 TWh of energy annually.
  • Worldwide banking consumes an estimated 258.85 TWh of energy annually.
  • The Bitcoin network consumes an estimated 35.4% less amount of energy globally than banking.

Energy Consumption: Bitcoin vs. Banking

The annual energy consumption figures paint a revealing picture of the digital and traditional banking landscapes. The Bitcoin network, often criticized for its high energy use, actually consumes significantly less energy compared to global banking operations. The estimated energy use of the Bitcoin network stands at 167.14 terawatt-hours (TWh) annually. In contrast, the comprehensive energy consumption for worldwide banking totals 258.85 TWh. This includes the energy demands of banking data centers, which are the largest contributors, estimated at 225.45 TWh. Additionally, physical bank branches, independent ATMs, and card networks like VISA consume 22.68 TWh, 2.91 TWh, and 7.81 TWh respectively. These figures highlight the extensive energy requirements needed to support traditional banking infrastructures compared to the decentralized Bitcoin network.

Conclusion: Reflecting on Energy Efficiency in Finance

The comparison between Bitcoin’s energy consumption and that of global banking systems offers surprising insights into the efficiency of digital currencies. Despite common perceptions, Bitcoin operates on significantly less energy—35.4% less—than the combined energy used by worldwide banking operations. This analysis underscores the potential for digital currencies to offer more sustainable solutions in the financial sector. As we move towards increasingly digital transactions, these findings challenge us to reconsider our assumptions about the real energy costs of our financial choices.


For this study, we leveraged various datasets/sources to generate electricity consumption estimates for the Bitcoin network and worldwide banking.

In order to estimate the electricity consumption of the Bitcoin network, we referenced the Bitcoin Energy Consumption Index (on April 17th, 2024).

In order to estimate the electricity consumption of banking, we focused on four major factors. Each was calculated independently, with a separate set of assumptions and extrapolations.

  • Banking data centers: Based on assumptions for private data center size, power demand, and hours of operation, we estimated the energy consumption of Bank of America (and their 23 private data centers). In order to extrapolate, we assessed the total value of assets held by Bank of America and the total value of assets held by the world’s top 100 banks in 2023. These calculations assume all data centers for all banks are a set size and have the same power demand. Additionally, it assumes total assets held correlates to data center usage.
  • Bank Branches: Based on the number of banks worldwide per 100,000 residents, an 8 hour a day/5 days a week/50 week annual operation time, and an estimate for small business energy consumption, we estimated the energy consumption of all bank branches around the world. This calculation assumes all bank branch locations are the same size and have the same energy demands.
  • ATMs: Based on the number of ATMs worldwide per 100,000 residents, the number of banks worldwide, and the power demand of an ATM, we estimated the energy consumption of all ATMs located outside of banks around the world. For this calculation, we assumed each bank location around the world is home to 1 ATM and all ATMs have the same power demands.
  • Credit card network: Based on assumptions for power demand and hours of operation along with the known size of the 4 VISA data centers around the world, we estimated the energy consumption of VISA data centers. In order to extrapolate, we assessed the total transactions facilitated by VISA in 2023 and compared it to the number of total credit card transactions in 2023. These calculations assume all data centers for all banks have the same power demand and each transaction has the same power demand. Additionally, it assumes total transactions correlate to data center usage.


  1. Reliance on extrapolation from limited data points or single examples.
  2. Assumptions that all banks and branches have similar energy consumption patterns regardless of size, location, and efficiency.
  3. Use of general, accessible estimates rather than actual data from banks or targeted studies.
  4. Inclusion of four major banking factors/activities and the exclusion of others.

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