Chinese bitcoin miners eye Canada's cheap power

Bitcoin mining fees to surge

Sophie Lu, an analyst for Bloomberg New Energy Finance, says the miners will keep on profiting as long as bitcoin's price remains higher than $6,925. The digital currency was last in that range back in mid-November and now trades at about $13,900. About three-quarters of those machines ended up in China, the world's largest electricity user, which is now seeking to discourage the practice given a surge in power use in some provinces.

The short-lived bitcoin mining industry is already on the cusp of being shut down by Chinese authorities following concerns at the heavy demand the sector is placing on the electricity grid. At the same time, mining is likely to boost the demand for renewable energy sources from the U.S. to China.

Earlier this month, the People's Bank of China (PBOC) asked local authorities to regulate bitcoin miners' power usage to slowly reduce the scale of their production.

The company's spokesman Nishat Sharma told Reuters that Bitmain Technologies are discussing future prospects with Quebec's regional authorities, and the company also has plans to spread to Switzerland.

Within four years, Hydro-Quebec envisions miners soaking up about five terawatt-hours of power annually - equivalent to about 300 000 Quebec homes - from the surplus created by the region's hydroelectric dams.

Cryptocurrency miners will probably migrate to low-priced power regions, including China and the US, Midwest and Pacific Northwest.

It's hard to predict how much power will be used to mine bitcoin in the future, Lu wrote, as it depends on how efficient the computers running the complex calculations needed for mining become and how many additional computers will be used in the process. The computer that solves the problem is rewarded with bitcoin, a process known as mining.

Mining bitcoins can use a lot of electricity, but the low costs in China- from $0.03 to $0.13 per kilowatt hour-make it profitable even if the price drastically drops.

"Mining is very profitable at today's bitcoin price, and if cryptocurrencies continue to appreciate we expect global mining power consumption to increase", Ashworth said. The computers used in mining aren't expected to last more than two years and the other equipment involved is relatively cheap.

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