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It’s Official: Bitcoin was the Top Performing Currency of 2015

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It's Official: Bitcoin was the Top Performing Currency of 2015

It’s Official: Bitcoin was the Top Performing Currency of 2015

The Money Project is an ongoing collaboration between Visual Capitalist and Texas Precious Metals that seeks to use intuitive visualizations to explore the origins, nature, and use of money.

For most investors, the major story of 2015 was the expectation and eventual fulfillment of a rate hike, signalling the start of tightening monetary policy in the United States. This policy is divergent to those of other major central banks, and this has translated into considerable strength and momentum for the U.S. dollar.

Using the benchmark of the U.S. Dollar Index, a comparison against a basket of major currencies, the dollar gained 8.3% throughout the year.

Despite this strength, the best performing currency in 2015 was not the dollar. In fact, the top currency of 2015 is likely to be considered the furthest thing from the greenback.

Bitcoin, a digital and decentralized cryptocurrency, staged a late comeback in 2015 to overtake the dollar by a whopping 35% by the end of the year.

Bitcoin is no stranger to extremes. During the year it came into the mainstream in 2013, Bitcoin gained 5,429% to easily surpass all other currencies in gains. However, the following year it would become a dog, losing -56% of its value to become the world’s worst performing currency in 2014.

The second best performing major currency, relative to the USD, was the Israeli shekel. It gained 0.3% throughout the year, and the Japanese yen (0%) and Swiss franc (0%) were close behind, finishing on par with how they started the year.

The world’s worst performing currencies are from countries that were battered by commodities or geopolitical strife.

Ukraine’s hryvnia fell -33.8% in the aftermath of Crimea. Brazil’s real (-30.5%), the Canadian dollar (-15.9%), Russian ruble (-20.8%), and South African rand (-26.7%) all lost significant value in the purging of global commodities. Gold finished the year down -10%, and silver at -11%.

About the Money Project

The Money Project aims to use intuitive visualizations to explore ideas around the very concept of money itself. Founded in 2015 by Visual Capitalist and Texas Precious Metals, the Money Project will look at the evolving nature of money, and will try to answer the difficult questions that prevent us from truly understanding the role that money plays in finance, investments, and accumulating wealth.

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Bitcoin

Top 10 Bitcoin Mining Countries & Their Renewable Electricity Mix

Bitcoin miners worldwide use about 348 TWh of electricity per year, as much as some countries, but just where does all that power come from?

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Teaser to an infographic showing the top 10 countries for Bitcoin mining, led by the U.S. Kazakhstan, and China, and their renewable electricity mix. Only China, Canada, Germany, and Ireland had renewable mixes above the global average of 30%.

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The following content is sponsored by HIVE Digital Technologies

Top 10 Bitcoin Mining Countries & Their Renewable Electricity Mix

Bitcoin miners use an estimated 348 terawatt hours of electricity per year, and with the world increasingly moving to renewables, some are asking the question: just where does Bitcoin get its electricity?

To answer that question, we partnered with HIVE Digital to visualize data from the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance and Ember, a climate-oriented energy think tank, to look at the Bitcoin network’s electricity mix. 

This is part one in our How Green is Bitcoin? series, which examines the cryptocurrency’s sustainability.  

The World According to Bitcoin

The top 10 countries for Bitcoin mining represent 93.8% of the entire network by hashrate—a measure of computational power—with the U.S., China, and Kazakhstan rounding out the top three. Together these three countries hosted nearly three-quarters of the network at the end of 2021. 

CountryHashrate (%)Renewable (%)
U.S.37.8%22.5%
China21.1%30.2%
Kazakhstan13.2%11.3%
Canada6.5%69.7%
Russia4.7%18.5%
Germany3.1%43.0%
Malaysia2.5%19.1%
Ireland2.0%38.6%
Singapore2.0%2.4%
Thailand1.0%15.5%
Rest of the World6.3%30.1%

Source: Hashrate (%): Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance as of December 2021; Renewable (%) Ember, as of 2022.

China used to be the top spot for Bitcoin mining, up to 75% of global capacity, but a crackdown in the summer of 2021 saw their share drop to nil in just a couple months. Many miners relocated to nearby Kazakhstan, attracted by cheap electricity, loose regulations, and a ‘stable’ political climate, while others opted for the United States. A sizable covert mining scene has also emerged in China, now that the dust has settled.

At the bottom of the top 10 are Ireland, Singapore, and Thailand, which together host 4.9% of the network. Ireland’s reported share—and this applies to sixth-place Germany, as well—is thought to be a significant overstatement caused by miners in other countries masking their true locations.

The Role of Renewables

On a national basis, the U.S., China, and Kazakhstan each had renewable shares of 22.5%, 30.2%, and 11.3% respectively. For context, renewables made up 30% of the world’s electricity generation in 2022 (not including nuclear). 

Kazakhstan’s dismal renewable share is due to their heavy reliance on coal (60%), which is also a major export of the central Asian country. At the same time, coal contributes a similar amount of the electricity in China (61%), but their overall renewable share is higher because of their breakneck expansion of wind and solar power.

Wagons Ho?

Just where a Bitcoin miner sets up their rig is important, because unlike many other industries with factories or big head offices, they are mobile (Google ‘Bitcoin mining shipping containers’ if you need convincing).

Where they choose to put out their shingle is based on things like the regulatory regime, price of electricity, and because Bitcoin rigs generate a lot of heat, the average outdoor temperature. On this last point, here is how the top 10 breaks down by mean annual temperature:

Increasingly, though, with climate change driving the push to renewables, many Bitcoin miners are looking more closely at where their electricity is coming from. This could be why Canada—with its embarrassment of hydroelectric riches—has crept up the ranking from less than one percent of the network in 2019, to six-and-a-half percent at the end of 2021. 

But considering that top renewable countries such as Iceland, Paraguay, and Norway together only hosted just over one percent of the global network, there’s still a lot more room left for growth.

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Learn more about how Bitcoin miner and data center operator HIVE Digital is using clean, renewable energy at its facilities in Canada, Sweden, and Iceland.

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