Bitcoin mining in China will soon use as much energy as a major European nation. 

The energy consumption and carbon emissions associated with Bitcoin mining are accelerating rapidly in China, according to a new study. Without more stringent regulations and policy changes, these impacts could undermine global sustainability efforts.

Within three years, the study says that the computers used to mine for Bitcoin will use more energy and produce more carbon emissions than the whole nation of Italy. 

The authors estimate that the energy consumption from the high-tech process will peak in 2024 at around 297 terawatt-hours; by comparison, the total energy consumption of Italy is 293 terawatt-hours. Australia’s total energy consumption in 2019/20 was 192.4 terawatt-hours.

If Bitcoin mining had been this energy-intensive in 2016, it would have consumed enough energy to rank 12th among all countries.

The researchers say regulations are needed but that current policies like carbon taxation are not effective at curbing emissions from the Bitcoin industry. 

Instead, they say that individual site regulation policies for Bitcoin miners are the best way to reduce future emissions from the blockchain operation.