The network which verifies cryptocurrency Bitcoin uses more electricity than the whole of Ireland.

As hedge funds back the virtual currency, the value of Bitcoin rose above $9,700 (£7,270) on Monday having begun the year at $1,000.

A Bitcoin is now worth more than seven times an ounce of gold.

Statistics published by Digiconomist showed that the Bitcoin ‘mining’ network consumes 30.14TWh of electricity a year – more than Ireland and 19 other European countries.

‘Mining’ is the incredibly complicated computational process by which Bitcoin transactions are verified. ‘Miners’, which use specialist computers to carry out the blockchain-based verifications, are rewarded with Bitcoins.

Each transaction uses almost 300KWh of electricity, which could boil 36,000 kettles full of water.