(Live Mint) Bitcoin, one of the most popular cryptocurrencies, currently uses almost as much power as Ireland does, and could be consuming about 0.5% of the world’s total electricity by the end of this year, a study has found.

Bitcoin’s burgeoning electricity demands have attracted almost as much attention as the cryptocurrency’s wildly fluctuating value. However, estimating exactly how much electricity the bitcoin network uses, necessary for understanding its impact and implementing policy, remains a challenge.

“We’ve seen a lot of back-of-the-envelope calculations, but we need more scientific discussion on where this network is headed. Right now, the information available is pretty poor quality overall, so I’m hoping that people will use this paper as a foundation for more research,” said economist and blockchain specialist Alex de Vries, who works at PwC in the Netherlands.

Note: Read our discussion guidelines before commenting.