The global power needed to create cryptocurrencies this year could rival the entire electricity consumption of Argentina and be a growth driver for renewable energy producers from the U.S. to China.
Miners of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies could require up to 140 terawatt-hours of electricity in 2018, about 0.6 percent of the global total, Morgan Stanley analysts led by Nicholas Ashworth wrote in a note Wednesday. That’s more than expected power demand from electric vehicles in 2025.
“If cryptocurrencies continue to appreciate we expect global mining power consumption to increase,” Ashworth wrote in the note.
While the figure is too small to be a major driver of global utility shares, it represents an important growth story for companies investing in wind and solar power combined with energy storage — a list that includes NextEra Energy Inc., Iberdrola SA and Enel SpA, according to the note. Other potential beneficiaries include big oil companies that are investing in renewable energy and green-power developers that are backed by initial-coin-offering capital raises.
Miners will probably concentrate in low-cost power regions, including China and the U.S. Midwest and Pacific Northwest. Miners earn bitcoin-denominated rewards for performing the complex calculations needed to confirm transactions in the cryptocurrency.
The report did, however, offer some caution.
“There are plenty of uncertainties which means energy consumption could inflect in either direction,” Ashworth wrote. “This is clearly not an exact science.”