Bitcoin, from opportunity to headache. Kazakhstan will have to import energy to power the computers it ‘mines’

Cryptocurrencies could play a more important financial role in the future than speculation has often played so far. However, its impact on some countries of the world is already present. And it’s not just about El Salvador Which was a few weeks ago First country to accept bitcoin as legal tender. case as well as financial, It’s lively: A country very rich in hydrocarbons like KazakhstanFor example, he may have to start Importing electricity from Russia. Domestic consumption is actually by 8% Since the beginning of 2021, compared to average annual increases of typically around 2%. The reason for this peak is quickly explained.

Since when Last summer, China decided to ban “mining” activity. of cryptocurrency – This means the complex technological procedures for creating different digital currencies, which require huge amounts of electricity – because a lot expensive in terms of energy, the number of mining farm It is located in Kazakhstan has grown exponentially. Many of these data processing facilities migrate to Kazakhstan illegalassociated with some characteristic features of the Central Asian country.

Firstly, Very low cost of electricitywhich makes working in Kazakhstan especially convenient: for comparison, in December 2019 it was equal to $0.041 per kilowatt-hour (Kw) for domestic consumption and 0.049 for manufacturing activities, versus, say, the average price in the United States $0.14 per kilowatt, Almost triple. Secondly , Cold weather A large part of the vast territory of Kazakhstan allows mining farms to operate without risks Systems overheating and/or reduce cooling consumption. Last, certainly not least, country authorities Take a stand so far not hostile towards the cryptocurrency sector, an approach that could nonetheless change in light of the current crisis.

about government Nur Sultan It is comforting to have climbed there in Kazakhstan in recent months Global ranking of countries with the highest monthly hash rate (i.e. the processing power dedicated to cryptocurrency mining). According to the Center for Alternative Finance at the University of Cambridge, at the end of it Bitcoin mining map (Updated to August 2021), in fact, it is now a post-Soviet Republic in second place With a global share of 18%, in the back US up to 35%But ahead of Russia, which stops at 11%. Until June this year, before the ban, ranking China took over, with approximately 35% globally. to sign up , Italy stops at 0.05%.

If so far the Kazakh authorities have witnessed activities related to cryptocurrency above all An opportunity for economic diversification And the flow of investments into the country, in June 2020, the desire to attract over the following three years was expressed 700 million dollars investment In this sector, the repercussions of energy could change the picture. The Legalization for the largest consumers It has already begun and there is also talk of measures to limit access to the power grid for unregistered mining operators or introduce Maximum power flow Dedicated to the sector as a whole.

However, one country’s crisis can present an opportunity for another. As Eurasianet reported, in fact, the Russian state company Inter RawElectricity import and export operator, proposed immediately Opening a supply channel at market prices to Kazakhstan, which is an expensive alternative for the Kazakh authorities but perhaps the only viable alternative currently, considering the approach of the very harsh winter in Central Asia. It is the proposal that the Ministry of Energy is studying, Nur Sultan, taking note of this, as explained by the Undersecretary Murat Zuribekov During a press conference, for a more systematic solution to the problem, investments in at least the national network will be required $1.5 billion And at least five years of time.

The The topic is also environmental, as well as economical. In fact, Kazakhstan occupies The tenth place in the world in terms of per capita carbon dioxide emissions Given that much of the electricity is produced internally using coal-fired power plants while keeping the price itself artificially low, the difficulty of meeting internal demand will further delay Transition to renewable energies. On the other hand, the impact of cryptocurrencies on environmental sustainability is a topic that is increasingly in the spotlight, also because the numbers speak for themselves. Some estimates suggest that Bitcoin – the most popular and most popular cryptocurrency – is being “mined”. It generates between 22 and 23 million tons of carbon dioxide annuallyequal to the emissions of countries such as Jordan or Sri Lanka. However, according to data from the University of Cambridge, the annual amount of electricity needed to produce bitcoins is roughly equal. 122 TWhgreater than the annual consumption of countries such as Argentina, the Netherlands and the United Arab Emirates.

Other countries may soon make the same decision as China by banning mining. That’s what he called recently, for example FinansinspektionenThe Swedish Financial Supervisory Authority and the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency. In the midst of Cop26, an agreement had just been concluded in Glasgow, which many observers considered unsatisfactory, and the two bodies issued one joint declaration, It was emphasized that the growing interest in renewable energy for cryptocurrency miners is not a positive factor but DangerBecause the renewable energy sources produced must be used in the climate transition of basic services towards sustainable models. Hence the call to ban mining on Swedish soil.

If the topic is divided into contexts where there is no danger Energy rationIn countries, such as Kazakhstan, the problem can become more complex, where promoting a sector such as cryptocurrency at the institutional and economic level can have serious repercussions on the daily lives of citizens. A dilemma that is currently difficult to solve.

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