Cryptocurrency mining, an emerging industry that divides

In a small warehouse south of Calgary, Noah Cramer cuts electrical wires and prepares power bars that will be mailed to the four corners of Canada.

We also have customers in Colombia, United States [et] in the Dominican Republicsays the entrepreneur and president of Wild Rose Mining, a 19-year-old student who prefers to be in his workshop than in computer engineering class.

A deafening noise echoes when he turns on his mining machines. Their fans are running at full speed. Connected to the Internet, they make it possible to mine bitcoins, the main cryptocurrency on the market.

Noah Cramer sees his small business growing rapidly. He mainly sells powerful computers that solve complex equations securing the network in exchange for bitcoins. The most recent model makes a profit of around $20 per day.

The Canadian sector has been booming since last yearhe observes. People are investing thousands of dollars to create small mining farms at home, especially in Quebec and Alberta.

These bitcoin miners cost between $12,000 and $14,000 each.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Axel Tardieu

When China Withdrew

According to the University of Cambridge, bitcoin miners in China accounted for 70% of the market until the practice was banned by the Chinese government in May 2021.

Since then, they have practically all left the country to settle in Kazakhstan, Iran or Russia. The sector is developing especially in North America. Canada’s market share doubled in just two months.

What is the ideal location sought by a professional miner? A country with a stable electricity infrastructure, offering low prices, in a safe region without political instability and with authorities facilitating the construction of installations. Canada is the perfect placesummarizes Samuel Eckert, consultant at hiveon.

An earlier version of this text claimed that Samuel Eckert was president of Hiveon. However, his title changed between the time he was interviewed and the publication of the text. We have corrected the previous paragraph to reflect this change, editor’s note.

The opportunities are great, confirms Ethan Vera, chief operating officer, Luxor Technology. Even though Quebec is more attractive thanks to its cheaper and greener electricity, Alberta will catch up thanks to its energy surplus and could become the champion province of the industry within five to ten years.does he think.

Workers transfer cryptocurrency miners to a farm in China.

This cryptocurrency mining farm in China had to leave its country in the summer of 2021.

Photo: afp via getty images/STR

Monster electricity consumption

Concerns persist about the environmental impact of cryptocurrency mining. The electricity consumption of the network has been increasing continuously since its creation.

In one year, this practice uses more electricity than Argentina, according to the University of Cambridge. The practice is so energy-intensive that Kosovo, hit by a power shortage, banned mining on its soil in January.

To make the sector greener, companies such as Imperium Digital Where Upstream Dataoffer a solution to the energy sector.

During oil drilling, natural gas escapes. While oil can easily be transported by truck, gas delivery requires a pipeline. Drillers prefer to burn the gas if the pipeline is too far or non-existent to avoid additional costs.

Flaring or mining

Emerging companies are offering to collect surplus natural gas to supply electricity to computers installed in a container. It’s a bargain not to be missed, according to Del Mondor, president ofAldon Oils and owner of 450 oil wells across the Prairies.

I hate to see wasted gas. This technology could become a new source of income and could make us pay less carbon tax since we would pollute lesshe assures.

The process would reduce CO emissions2 by about 63% compared to flaring, according to a study by Crusoe Energy Systems of Denver, Colorado.

In this situation, everyone is a winner, according to Haley Thomson, head ofImperium Digital. Oil companies can directly sell their raw material instead of depending on the construction of pipelineshe said.

Containers in a field, under a cloudy sky.

These containers house bitcoin miners near a gas operation around Grande Prairie in western Alberta.

Photo: Imperium Digital

Haley Thomson must nevertheless face increased competition for a year and, above all, an industry still cautious. “Bitcoin” is still a dirty word for some gray-haired executives who don’t want to raise the issue with their board.

The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP), in particular, seems less enthusiastic. We capture and sell our methane at much higher rates than in other jurisdictions. Little left to fuel bitcoin miningwrites a spokesperson.

The race for promotion

If the United States is leading Bitcoin mining today, it is thanks to politicians who quickly made it clear to investors that they would be welcomed. The states of Texas and Wyoming are the most accommodating.

In Alberta, the Minister of the Economy has recently followed this trend. In January and February, Doug Schweitzer appealed to companies in the cryptocurrency industry, hoping to attract them to bring his province into the bitcoin ecosystem in the long term.

The resistance of municipalities

Before seeing bitcoin mines swarm in Alberta, the county municipality of Sturgeon, near Edmonton, especially wants to see more regulations. A cryptocurrency farm was discovered there following complaints of noise and visual nuisance.

Containers containing a bitcoin mining farm in Alberta.

In September, Link Global was fined $7.1 million by the Alberta Utilities Commission for operating a bitcoin farm without permission for 364 days.

Photo: CBC/David Bajer

The company Global Link had settled without authorization near a natural gas well. Thousands of computers operated without interruption within 700 meters of dwellings.

It’s a bit of the Wild West. These facilities are popping up all over the country. It will soon be a Canadian problemsaid Mayor Alanna Hnatiw.

Responsible for the rules surrounding development on its parcels, the County Municipality of sturgeon gives itself until April to put in place a framework allowing a livable cohabitation between the machines and the inhabitants.

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