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We are often told that the verification of bitcoin transactions eats a lot of energy. The largely inaccurate comparison to a small country, the size of Ireland or Denmark, is evoked thanks to numerous clickbait headlines. What mainstream media fails to explain, however, is that bitcoin mining is actually helping electricity producers prevent energy waste. Hydropower plants, for example, can generate and sell much more electricity during rainy seasons in some regions or when snow melts in others. Wastage can be mitigated through a symbiosis with bitcoin farms, at no additional cost for the environment.
Plum Rain Brings Life to China’s Mining Industry
During the prolonged winter the crypto industry had to endure, the mining sector saw its profits diminish almost to the point of no return. After another of Bitcoin’s prematurely pronounced deaths turned out to be a false alarm, miners are back exploring business opportunities. The days when mining companies were turning their ASIC rigs into scrap metal are gone.
With spring, prices unseen since last year returned to the crypto markets. In China, which controls a large portion of the global hashrate, the wet season, known in Eastern Asia as the ‘plum rain,’ brought lower electricity rates in provinces with developed hydroelectric infrastructure. The main ingredients in the recipe of profitable mining are back on the table. It’s been reported that miners are once again buying ASICs.
When rain starts pouring in May, rivers and dams in China fill up pretty quickly. Hydroelectric stations reach their peak capacity producing more than local industry and households need. That prompts authorities and utilities in provinces such as the southwestern Sichuan to bring down electricity rates to as low as 0.2 yuan (around $ 0.03) per kilowatt-hour (kWh), stimulating the consumption of cheap and green energy produced by hydroelectric plants.
Beijing-based Bitmain is among the companies taking advantage of lower electricity prices by utilizing surplus hydro power generated in Sichuan during the spring and summer months. Back in March, Chinese media reported that the mining giant had deployed around 100,000 mining rigs in the region before the start of the rainy season, with plans to install another 200,000 devices within the next few months.
Using hydro power for coin minting, when water levels are at their highest, is a win-win situation for both crypto miners and electricity producers. The cooperation can be highly profitable not only for the bitcoin mining facilities but also for energy companies as it allows them to raise the efficiency of their power generating capacities and ultimately increase their revenue.
Hydropower Plants and Cryptocurrency Miners Mint Coins for Mutual Benefit
Hydroelectric generation provides a great way to use excess power for cryptocurrency mining and also fund renewable energy, commented Shaun Chong, mining product manager at Bitcoin.com. He also acknowledged that mining profitability has improved significantly with rising crypto prices. “Cloud mining sales do a lot better during bull markets,” he said. The Bitcoin.com Pool is in partnership with mining datacenters in the U.S., Sweden and China. Chong noted:
All of them are using hydro power. All our cloud mining is powered by hydroelectricity.
Most mining companies working in Sichuan have direct contractual relations with the hydropower plants they build their farms at, Kirk Su, business development manager responsible for Bitcoin.com’s operations in China, told news.Bitcoin.com. The contracts do provide lower electricity prices for crypto miners. “Everyone gets different rates but they are typically around 0.2 RMB,” Su added. That’s around $ 0.03 per kWh.
Kirk Su himself runs a mining farm operating in Aba, Sichuan using electrical energy from a 150MW state-owned hydropower plant. His 10MW facility is considered a midsized farm in the province, which is home to 50MW and even bigger farms. “During the wet season, typically from April through November, these power plants will generate much more electricity than the grid needs. Hence, the excess power eventually goes to waste,” the miner explained.
Su noted that most companies in Sichuan work with private power plants as crypto mining in the People’s Republic is still somewhat a grey area. Some mining businesses, however, have managed to establish relations with state-owned enterprises. That actually provides them some protection against potential government crackdowns. On the flip side, these farms are more expensive to build as state enterprises are obliged to meet strict official standards.
Nevertheless, the cooperation is beneficial for both sides. “For the hydropower plant, they get to sell excess energy they wouldn’t be able to transfer to the grid during the wet season. For cryptocurrency miners, it’s obvious – we get cheap power,” Kirk Su pointed out. He further added that Chinese miners prefer to attract power plants as investors in their projects. The participation incentivizes energy producers to protect the mining farms from authorities when needed.
Lack of Predictability Hampers Mining Growth in the East
China, while very important for bitcoin minting at this stage, with its low electricity rates and authorities mostly turning a blind eye to mining, has one serious disadvantage – the lack of long-term predictability. The rainy season comes and goes year after year, but no one really knows when the regulatory storm will begin. The People’s Republic, just like many other countries in the Eastern hemisphere, including the former Soviet republics, offers miners a lot in terms of potential profits. But for many companies with insufficient local connections, the inability to ensure uninterrupted operations for years ahead is a major concern.
Russia, another country with a huge surplus of cheap energy, is also a good example in that respect. The collapse of many heavy industries following the dissolution of the Soviet Union left a third of its power generating capacities idling. Electricity rates in some energy-rich regions like Irkutsk can drop below $ 0.02 per kWh. The Siberian oblast, where the Angara River flows, is home to a large number of hydropower stations.
The local power company Irkutskenergo, which belongs to the large Russian En+ Group, announced last year a tender to lease five land plots to cryptocurrency mining farms and supply them with cheap electricity. The sites are located at its hydroelectric stations in Ust Ilimsk, Bratsk and Irkutsk, the largest of which has a generating capacity of almost 4,000 MW. En+ held talks with several mining investors in an effort to diversify its customer base. Another major operator, Eurosibenergo, also tried to attract mining businesses to some of its 20 power plants.
The realization of such partnerships, however, is hampered by the lack of a comprehensive legal framework for the growing Russian crypto industry. The adoption of a package of laws designed to regulate the sector has been postponed multiple times. For now, the future of cryptocurrencies in Russia remains uncertain and that applies to the mining sector as well, despite the more positive attitude of authorities in Moscow towards data processing in general.
Not as Simple as Parking a Farm Next to a Dam
This is precisely why Race-Cap, a company with interests in various blockchain-related fields and a partner of Bitcoin.com, has chosen Sweden for its high-performance datacenter and maintains offices in crypto-friendly Zurich as well as the global financial capitals London and New York. News.Bitcoin.com spoke with Race-Cap CEO Arthur Davis about the reasoning behind their preferences for mining destinations.
Davis believes Sweden and the United States are the two most important Western regions where a stable mining operation can be established. In his view, very important considerations when choosing a location suitable to crypto mining are regulations permitting this activity in the first place, favorable public opinion, and a stable tax environment. Next on the checklist are low energy prices and the presence of renewable sources ensuring “the best long-term natural value for all participants.”
Sweden, where Race-Cap has deployed its “Sky Computing” facility, as the entrepreneur calls it, meets these preconditions in one degree or another. Like any other mining hotspot, the Nordic country has its distinctions and they provide bitcoin miners with a different set of challenges in comparison with China. As Arthur Davis puts it:
One cannot simply look at parking an operation next to a hydro dam and thinking all will work well.
Unlike the People’s Republic, the energy system in Sweden is integrated with all power sources – hydro, wind, nuclear – feeding into the common grid. Energy is purchased from the market based on plugging into this grid at three levels of downstream availability, Davis explained. Only a power company may plug into the fourth, national level.
The price of electricity for end users has two components, as is the case in many other European countries. “Transmission” refers to the cost of consumed energy and the cost of “distribution” varies depending on where a consumer plugs into the grid. The higher into the grid the electricity is purchased from a distributor, or the closer to a primary source, the cheaper it is. There are certain advantages to being close to an energy producer. In terms of transmission, electricity is purchased from the open market at floating tariffs and any surplus from hydro sources is reflected in the spot price.
“There are pockets where one could build facilities near primary sources of power. But they are on a case by case basis. Even if power is available near a hydro station, it may be that the grid requires upgrading to take off the power, and this may be a 5 year process to actually be able to draw it down,” Race-Cap’s chief executive noted. “We have looked at a number of sites where the timeframe is 3-5 years to actually obtain the power near a primary power generation and transmission facility.”
The company’s mining facility is situated in Norrsundet, on the coast and in the middle of the country, which is the termination point for a planned enormous offshore wind energy development, which should be constructed in the next few years. Arthur Davis pointed out that Microsoft has recently purchased a big parcel of land to deploy datacenter infrastructure in the region, and Google has also reserved large-scale power in the area.
However, the crypto entrepreneur remarked that the proximity to efficient power generating facilities is not necessarily the only consideration. A decision to build and operate a datacenter should depend on the balance between all factors: “In the far north, where hydro power is plentiful, it may be too cold to properly operate the servers. We have seen other datacenters have significant issue with it being too cold, and therefore capital is required to invest to warm them up, somewhat counterproductive.”
A Government That Realizes Surplus Energy Needs More Consumers
Cold is not an issue in certain parts of South America that are also very rich in water resources and hydropower capacities. While many countries experience energy shortages, Paraguay is one of those producing more than they need. It is home to the world’s most powerful hydroelectric plant, built at the Itaipú dam on the Paraná River, which generates over 100 terawatt-hours of electricity annually. Another large hydroelectric power station is operating at the Yacyretá dam built over the waterfalls of Jasyreta-Apipé. The country currently uses only about half of the electricity the two power plants can produce.
Unlike other nations, the Paraguayan government has realized the benefit of having bitcoin farms next to its hydroelectric stations. A deal with two crypto companies aims to prevent energy waste. Bitfury Group, and the Korea-based Commons Foundation, announced earlier this year their new partnerships to create and operate mining facilities powered by the hydroelectric energy from the plants at the two dams. Authorities in Asunción have promised to provide five sites for the project.
Do you agree that energy producers and crypto mining companies should cooperate more closely to utilize surplus hydro power that would otherwise be wasted? Share your thoughts on the subject in the comments section below.
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According to regional reports, the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) is planning to allow licensed cryptocurrency mining as long as operations are charged for electricity based on the price of export. The CBI governor, Abdol Nasser Hemmati, explained that mined cryptocurrencies should flow back into the Iranian economy.
Chinese Miners Negotiate With Iranian Leaders to Set Up Mining Operations in the Free Trade Zones
In December 2018, there were reports of miners stemming from China, Spain, Ukraine, Armenia, and France to mine bitcoin in the oil-rich nation of Iran. The Middle Eastern country has extremely cheap electricity rates, and in April there were even more stories of Chinese miners heading to Iran for extremely affordable electric prices at $ 0.006 per kilowatt-hour (KWh). Then, at the end of June, the spokesperson for Tavanir, an Iranian state-operated grid entity, said that electrical consumption had spiked by 7% in comparison to the previous year. Tavanir executive Mostafa Rajabi Mashhad further blamed illicit cryptocurrency mining operations for the country’s increased electrical consumption. Rajabi told the press that other Iranian provinces were having difficulties due to the mass electrical consumption and emphasized that “illegal bitcoin miners will be identified and their electricity will be cut.”
Following Rajabi’s statements, bitcoin miners defied his warning and Iranians shared pictures of a bitcoin mining mosque. The regional publication Iran Daily reported that there were roughly 100 unauthorized bitcoin mining sites located in various provinces. The Tabnak website claims 1,000 bitcoin mining machines were seized by Iranian law enforcement on June 28. “Two of these bitcoin farms have been identified, with a consumption of one megawatt,” a Tavanir official, Arash Navab, told state television. Bitcoin mining has become a very popular vehicle to escape sanctions across many provinces in Iran. “Everyone’s talking about Bitcoin and how to get it,” said Mahsa Alimardani, an Iranian native and researcher at the Oxford Internet Institute noted to regional reporters.
Then on July 10, Mohammad Sharqi, managing director of Iran Blockchain Association, told the local press that Chinese digital currency miners have asked Iranian officials to let them set up facilities in the country. Official discussions have been initiated and miners would like to operate in the Iranian free trade zones in Anzali, Kish Island, Qeshm Island, Chabahar, Arvand, and Aras. “The Chinese have made requests through official channels for cryptocurrency mining in the free zones,” Sharqi explained to the media. CBI’s deputy governor for new technologies, Nasser Hakimi, explained the same day that the local anti-money laundering authority had concerns with virtual currency trading. Sharqi thinks the stories of extreme electrical consumption have been exaggerated. Despite government warnings, according to an Iranian electrical industry spokesman, there are more than 148,000 machines in the country.
— RT (@RT_com) June 29, 2019
Central Bank of Iran Governor: ‘Bitcoin Mining Will Be Authorized if Miners Pay Export Prices for Electricity and Help Feed Funds Back Into the Iranian Economy’
Abdol Nasser Hemmati, the CBI governor, explained on July 10 that the government will authorize bitcoin mining in Iran even though Iranian bureaucrats have not finished regulating cryptocurrency trade. There are two caveats to the deal, Hemmati told the press, which will have to be followed strictly if mining operations are initiated in Iran. “Mining of the international digital currencies should be done based on the price of electricity for export,” Hemmati expounded. “What’s more important is that these mined currencies should be fed back to the national economic cycle,” the CBI governor added.
Hemmati warned the CBI would not tolerate a cryptocurrency that affects the price of the Iranian rial or gold. Reports also detail that Iranian law enforcement have already started to bust operations using factories, mosques, and utility service areas that benefit from extremely cheap electricity rates. At the export rate that’s charged to neighboring countries, bitcoin miners would have to pay $ 0.07 to $ 0.10 per KWh. The news outlet Presstv reports that the utility service area rates in Iran can be as low as $ 0.05 per watt. Electricity prices in Iran can be even lower in places like greenhouses and mosques for $ 0.006 per KWh as long as mosque leaders don’t mind breaking fatwa against the use of their subsidized electricity.
Iranian Leader Claims U.S. Congress, Donald Trump and Sanctions Have Been Hindering Iran’s Cryptocurrency Progress
Even at $ 0.13 per KWh, there are more than 40 SHA-256 machines that are still very profitable at today’s BTC prices. In some countries, electricity is higher or even double $ 0.13 per KWh so Iran’s power prices are quite affordable even with the export rate tacked on. Saeed Zarandi, the Iranian assistant minister of industry, trade and supply revealed to the press that the U.S. has been hindering Iran’s cryptocurrency progress.
Zarandi said that the U.S. Congress under the Trump administration has been harsh toward the country. Iran and the U.S. have been at odds again lately as the country’s military shot down an American drone and told the press it was in Iran’s no-fly zone. The U.S. and President Donald Trump claim the aircraft was in international airspace and not in Iran’s territory. Since then many observers have been worried that the U.S. may spark a war with Iran or vice versa. Zarandi asserted that members of the U.S. Congress believe cryptocurrencies could be used in Iran to avoid sanctions.
One specific set of sanctions called the Blocking Iran Illicit Finance Act is comprised of rules that make it hard for international companies to do business with Iranian financial institutions. H. R. 7321 details the expansion of prohibitions on correspondent accounts or payable-through accounts for foreign financial institutions. This includes banks that facilitate transactions or provide financial services for Iranian financial institutions. H. R. 7321 also displays a set of three rules to follow when it comes to Iranian-based digital currencies.
- Sanctions with respect to foreign persons that engage in significant transactions for the sale, supply, or transfer to Iran of significant goods or services used in connection with the development of Iranian digital currency.
- Sanctions with respect to foreign persons that conduct or facilitate significant transactions related to the purchase or sale of Iranian digital currency or maintain significant amounts in Iranian digital currency.
- Report on the progress of the Government of Iran in creating a sovereign cryptocurrency.
The latest rules against an Iranian digital currency also follow the U.S. imposed sanctions against cryptocurrencies from Venezuela and more recently Cuba. Moreover, in November 2018 the American government convinced Swift to cut Iran off from the global financial system which pushed Iranian college students toward cryptocurrency to pay for books and online tuition. Furthermore, reports from regional news outlets in China claim that Iranian cryptocurrency miners have been scrambling to buy mining rigs from the mainland. With the CBI green-lighting bitcoin mining in the country, the inflow of funds could give Iran an edge over the imposed U.S. sanctions. With rules like the Blocking Iran Illicit Finance Act and major payment processors like Swift cutting Iranian banks off, the country may be forced to use a borderless currency.
What do you think about Iran’s central bank planning to approve authorized bitcoin mining in the country as long as miners pay export prices for electricity? Let us know what you think about this subject in the comments section below.
Image credits: Shutterstock, Presstv, Iran Daily, Tabnak, and Pixabay.
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Mostafa Rajabi Mashhad, the spokesperson for Tavanir, an Iranian state-operated grid entity, has explained that electrical consumption has spiked by 7% in comparison to the previous year. Rajabi blames illegal cryptocurrency mining operations for the country’s increased electrical consumption and has warned that illicit mining facilities will be cut off from the grid.
Tavanir Grid Spokesperson: ‘Crypto Miners Are Consuming Too Much Electricity in Iran’
This week, state-run electric company spokesman Mostafa Rajabi Mashhad told the Iranian press that cryptocurrency mining has pushed the country’s electrical consumption to unstable levels. Rajabi warned illegal mining operations would be shut off from the grid and highlighted that the Iranian government has yet to decide on the approved energy prices for these types of operations. Bitcoin mining in Iran has become a hot subject of late because of rumors that prices are astronomically lower than even China during the wet season.
Last September the government allegedly recognized mining as an “accepted industry” according to the Secretary of Iran’s Supreme Council of Cyberspace, Abolhassan Firouzabadi. The Iranian official stated that the mining industry was approved by the Ministry of Energy, the central bank, and the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology. However, at the time, when the spokesperson told the press about the government’s recognition, Firouzabadi also stressed that the “final policy for legislating it [crypto mining] hasn’t been declared yet.”
Months later, in April 2019, Chinese miners reportedly found extremely affordable electric prices ($ 0.006 per kilowatt-hour) in the oil-rich nation of Iran. One Chinese miner recounted how he had to smuggle machines across the border and that Iranian border officials confiscated at least 40,000 crypto mining rigs of varied models. Even with the chance of getting machines seized by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the cheap prices have lured miners from around the world. Last December, Tehran-based cryptocurrency analyst Nima Dehqan detailed that miners from China, Spain, Ukraine, Armenia, and France were flocking to Iran.
Illegal Bitcoin Miners Will Be Identified and Cut off From the Grid Until Electric Prices Are Approved
Rajabi told IRIB News that at on June 21 data showed that Iran’s electrical consumption jumped by 7%. The Tavanir said the energy spike was “unusual” and “a bulk of that unusual increase is because of the activity of bitcoin miners.” Rajabi explained that the consumption over the last two months was more than three out of 31 Iranian provinces. The grid spokesperson insisted that until government subsidy electric prices are approved, Iranian officials will shut down illegal mining operations. “Bitcoin miners will be identified and their electricity will be cut,” said Rajabi during the press conference. Rajabi added that citizens of Iran from different provinces were having issues because of the mass electrical consumption.
The report from Rajabi follows statements made by the deputy energy minister in Tehran who said electricity bills for cryptocurrency miners should be calculated in real prices. Deputy energy minister Homayoun Haeri remarked on June 9 that digital currency miners should be paying the same rates as other businesses within the region. However, there’s been reports of operations using properties that get much lower electrical rates. This includes crypto mining operations illegally using government buildings, factories, and mosques. Iranian officials apparently pay more than $ 1 billion per annum to help subsidize the country’s electrical costs. It will be tougher for under the cuff operations using subsidized electric sources, but the announcement from Rajabi stopped short of an outright mining ban.
What do you think of the recent statement stemming from the state-run electric company Tavanir? Let us know what you think about this subject in the comments section below.
Image credits: Shutterstock, Pixabay, NYT, and Linkedin.
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On March 29, the two largest mining rig manufacturers, Canaan Creative and Bitmain Technologies, announced the sale of their next generation devices that process the SHA-256 algorithm. Both firms are gearing up to sell the new products this spring as a slew of mining operations have been prepping up new facilities in order to take advantage of the wet season in China.
Antminer 17 Series Available for Purchase on April 9
Bitcoin miners will be interested in the latest rigs that will be sold in the near future by the industry’s leading manufacturers. On Friday, Bitmain announced a sale date so the public can purchase devices from the Antminer 17 series which include the Antminer S17 Pro, Antminer S17, and the Antminer T17. The rigs will be sold globally on April 9, and come packed with Bitmain’s newly improved second generation 7nm ASIC BM1397 mining chips. During the announcement, Bitmain’s product manager of the latest Antminer series, Yangxin, revealed some details about the relationship between the company and the semiconductor foundry TSMC.
“The new miner offers a steep improvement in the hashrate in terms of space and power consumption,” Yangxin noted.
The BM1397 chips are produced using TSMC’s 7nm Finfet process and Yangxin claims the revamped 17 series will provide miners with 28.6 percent more efficiency than the previous 7nm equipped model using the BM1391. Yangxin stated that the future of mega-efficient SHA-256 miners will go beyond the 7nm scope. “From a technical point of view, there is no end to the development of technology. However, in the short run, the driving force behind the development of next-gen miners beyond 7nm chips is slowing down due to physical limitations,” Yangxin explained. The product manager continued:
With the nm size shrinking quantum effects, among other new challenges, come into play. It is promising that TSMC (Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company) is already in the process of building 5nm chips.
Bitmain’s announcement does not reveal the new products’ hashrate but the previous Antminer S15 produces 28 trillion hashes per second (TH/s). The 17 series specifications will be available on the official website when the devices go up for sale. Yangxin did disclose that there is a noticeable performance improvement compared to the previous generation chip and the 17 series models have a “higher hashrate in a single miner.”
Canaan Reveals the New Avalonminer A10
Following Bitmain’s announcement, Chinese firm Canaan Creative released information on the launch of its latest Avalon series. Canaan announced the new Avalonminer A10 on the company’s official Wechat account on Friday as well. Interestingly, Canaan’s ad says that the new miner will go on sale in March 2019, yet the official sale date is still unknown. Moreover, during the spring, Chinese miners have been flocking to Sichuan for cheap electricity during the wet season and mining operations have been buying up rigs for new facilities.
Canaan does reveal some of the specifications tied to the A10 device which include 31TH/s and power consumption of around 1736W off the wall. This means the machine boasts a possible 50W/T (watt per terahash) at max capacity. Other details such as the new Avalon rig’s price per unit are still unknown. The news follows rumors of Canaan reapplying for the company’s initial public offering (IPO) in Hong Kong because it expired. The finance publication Securities Times also reported that Canaan raised “several hundred million U.S. dollars” on March 11. Bitmain’s IPO application expired as well and the company has recently disclosed that the corporation will also attempt to go public again by reapplying.
What do you think about Canaan and Bitmain’s latest announcements concerning next-generation machines? Let us know what you think about this subject in the comments section below.
Image credits: Canaan Creative, and Bitmain Technologies.
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A court in Israel has once again ruled against a local bank which tried to close the account of a cryptocurrency related business without any due cause. This time a Tel Aviv court has determined that a bank can’t refuse to operate an account on behalf of a crypto miner.
Court Rules on Israminers vs Union Bank
Union Bank of Israel, Ltd. (TASE: UNON), the sixth largest Israeli bank, will not be allowed to close the account of local cryptocurrency mining company Israminers Ltd. Tel Aviv District Court Judge Limor Bibi has ruled that the bank’s sweeping policy of prohibiting the opening of an account for any customer working with digital currencies is unreasonable. However, the bank could still refuse the company’s requests to deposit fiat money if it is coming from anonymous exchanges in order to remain in compliance with the banking system’s AML (anti-money laundering) and KYC (know your customer) legal requirements.
The judge ruled: “I believe that the sweeping policy, which does not distinguish between different types of activity, scope of activity and different types of customers – in the field of digital currencies – is unreasonable.” However, she added that “In these circumstances, I find the bank’s argument that, given that the ‘money trail’, as defined, in terms of sales in a trading arena to an unknown factor which knowledge of it haven’t been proven, creates risks of money laundering. As a result, I find the bank’s refusal to provide service with regard to the receipt of the money deposited in the account as reasonable.”
The Israeli banking system has repeatedly had to be told by the courts not to block crypto businesses and users without justifiable reasons. In May 2018, for example, Bank Hapoalim, Israel’s largest bank, was forced by the same Tel Aviv District Court judge to accept a transfer of funds resulting from the sale of bitcoin to a client who had documents tracking the trade from beginning to end.
In February 2018, the Supreme Court of Israel issued an injunction order forbidding Bank Leumi from sweepingly halting the account activity of the Bits of Gold bitcoin exchange.
What do you think about this court’s ruling? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
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Mining operations that process SHA-256 coins like BTC and BCH saw revenues slashed due to the bear market lows at the end of 2018. Revenues continued to fall into the new year, but over the last few weeks, network hashrates have been climbing again. A report published on March 4 details that even though mining profits dropped to a 19-month low in February, gross margins still grew by 39 percent.
The Silver Lining
Cryptocurrency mining is a competitive industry and miners who process the SHA-256 consensus algorithm (BCH and BTC) have seen some deep losses in recent months. Despite the falling price last August, Bitcoin Cash (BCH) and Bitcoin Core (BTC) networks’ combined hashrate surpassed 65 exahash per second (EH/s). On Dec. 2, 2018, BCH and BTC hashrates averaged less than 32 EH/s, losing half of their processing power from their all-time high. Since then, combined hashrate is now averaging roughly 45 EH/s with BCH capturing 1.25 EH/s of the total share.
As far as profits are concerned, according to a new report by research publication Diar, miner margins are trending back into growth. Diar’s report details that BTC miner revenues dropped to a 19-month low, losing 10 percent overall this February. The research explains that BTC miners accumulated $ 295 million in fees alone in December 2017 but they are now gathering $ 195 million for both rewards and fees.
Diar’s study adds that a slew of smaller operations have been “put out to pasture” and the researchers believe most of the equipment running has been at a loss. However, not all of the news is bad for the mining industry as gross margins increased quite a bit in February.
“The increase in competition has also minimized gross margins from 94% at the start of 2018, down to 32% a year later,” Diar’s study details. “The silver lining, perhaps, is that gross margins grew to 39% in February.”
Half of the Top BCH Miners Also Mine the BTC Chain
Data stemming from Blockchain.com’s BTC hashrate distribution shows 14 decent sized operations processing the chain’s hash and 23 percent is captured by unknown miners. There are 13 pools mining the BCH chain and more than 10 percent of that coverage is also run by unknown mining pools.
At the time of writing, it is 0.7 percent more profitable to mine on the BTC chain and profitability differences between both ledgers have been fairly stable. Today six of the top BCH mining operations are also leading BTC pools as well. The slight spike in spot market price and gross margins has bolstered the distribution of hashrate significantly between both networks.
Next Generation Miners Could Keep Operations Going
The mining analysis by Diar details that now that gross margins have increased, mining operations can spend “capital expenditure on the latest mining equipment in order to stay ahead.”
“Bitmain’s latest flagship miner that began shipping at the start of the year, the S15, has already sold out twice-over with the next batch set for shipment in April,” explains the study. “It is likely then that hash power continues to increase in the coming month’s bar a massive price drop — But at current Bitcoin prices, the capital requirements would still be to miners benefit with the S15 averaging 84% more return than its predecessor, the S9.”
Other sources show that the top five next-generation SHA-256 miners are profiting by at least $ 0.25 to $ 1 a day. Mining rigs like the Ebang Ebit E11s, Bitmain’s S15, Innosilicon Terminators, and the Asicminer Nanos are pulling in small daily profits. Miners are hoping prices will increase because they have a lot of skin in the game and the 80-90 percent losses between both of the largest SHA-256 assets in existence has hurt them. While the boatloads of money from fees and the 2017 bull run is a distant memory, 39 percent growth in gross profits is likely to be received as a breath of fresh air.
What do you think about miners’ revenue and hashrate showing some growth? Let us know what you think about this subject in the comments section below.
Image credits: Shutterstock, Pixabay, Asicminervalue.com, Diar Research, Blockchain.com, and Coin Dance Cash.
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Over the last two months, the hashrate between the Bitcoin Cash (BCH) and Bitcoin Core (BTC) networks has increased significantly since hitting a low on December 15, 2018. Numerous reports detail that many Chinese miners who control a large portion of SHA-256 hashrate have been recently setting up shop in Sichuan. During the wet season here, miners can get an astounding 0.08 yuan per kWh or $ 0.01 per kWh.
Chinese Mining Operations Return to Sichuan in Order to Snatch Cheap Hydro Power
Several reports detail that during the last three weeks, Chinese miners have been flocking back to the Sichuan region in order to obtain cheap hydroelectric energy. The migration follows the significant hashrate decline in December when the SHA-256 hashrate between BTC and BCH declined by about 30 percent from its all-time high. During the dry season in Sichuan, Chinese miners positioned themselves in other locations throughout China and other countries when the fiat value of cryptocurrencies, in general, was much higher. Back in 2015-2016, it was estimated that more than 70 percent of the SHA-256 hashrate stemmed from China and 70 percent of the hashpower from these Chinese facilities derived from Sichuan. But when the price of BTC and many other coins skyrocketed, large Chinese mining operations trekked to other areas and sought out electric subsidies from local governments.
For instance, Chinese journalist Eva Xiao reported in August 2017 how large bitcoin mines were partnering with local Chinese governments for cheaper electricity from the State Grid. The reason for the strategic move was because unlike the dry and wet seasons in Sichuan, government partnerships provide static electrical rates that remain fairly steady. Bitmain did this with the company’s mine in Ordos in Inner Mongolia when it acquired electricity from the State Grid for $ 0.04 per kWh. Xiao details that in exchange, Bitmain allowed the Ordos mine to be taxed. However, regional reports published on Jan. 21, 2019 state that an influx of Chinese miners has been returning to Sichuan for the wet season. The China-based publication recently explained that during the dry season in Sichuan, hydroelectric costs are three times higher than the wet season.
“This tragedy will seemingly come to an end as soon as the rainy season is expected to come in April,” local reporter Lylian noted. “The 1,419 rivers in the region will soon wake up to propel the roar of 3,267 hydro plants — Numerous bitcoin mines will revive as they will have cheaper and sufficient power supplies.”
The report continued:
In the period of high water, the cost of electricity in Sichuan can be as low as 0.08 yuan ($ 0.01), while the electricity cost of thermal power in the dry season is 0.28 yuan ($ 0.04).
Bitcoin Prices Still Have to Appreciate Before the Halving
Mining operations are also enticed by the cheap hardware costs these days, as lots of mining rig prices have been slashed. Local columnist Chloe Jiang reveals that a second-hand Antminer S9 will set someone back about 800 yuan ($ 119) per unit. According to the top mining rig manufacturer websites like Bitmain, Ebang, and Canaan, older units are very inexpensive right now. Jiang remarks that cheap mining rigs and $ 0.01 per kWh electric prices in Sichuan may help miners survive the ‘crypto winter.’
The overall hashrate between both of the most dominant SHA-256 networks shows miners seem to be returning in greater number with many of them joining unknown pools. Analysts believe that at current electric prices worldwide and the upcoming reward halving for both networks, the price of BTC and BCH needs to rise to at least double current spot prices in order to maintain profitability.
What do you think about miners returning to Sichuan for cheap electricity? Let us know what you think about this story in the comments section below.
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The post Chinese Miners Flock to Sichuan for Cheap Electricity During the Wet Season appeared first on Bitcoin News.
Over the last few years, certain cryptocurrency networks have tried to block ASIC mining with many fruitless attempts to forge ASIC-resistant protocols. Multiple cryptocurrency developers have attempted to brick ASIC miners, but with scant success. A perfect example is the privacy-centric digital currency Monero, a project that has tried to fork the software multiple times in order to gain ASIC resistance. Monero developers have once again failed in that respect as a recent analysis shows more than 85 percent of the Monero network is currently dominated by ASICs.
Despite ASIC Resistance Attempts, ASIC Miners Dominate Monero
In April last year, XMR developers forked the Monero software in order to block companies like Bitmain and Innosilicon from developing XMR-based ASIC miners. The end result was the birth of three other Monero forks with each project claiming to be the original version. Monero also forked again in October last year with another attempt to implement “Cryptonight variant 2” which was supposedly less ASIC friendly. A few months later on Feb. 7, a researcher published an analysis of the XMR network which detailed once again the protocol’s hashrate was dominated by ASIC machines.
The analysis was written by a pseudonymous critic who used nonce forensics to figure out whether or not XMR’s nonce distribution processed at random numbers. In the blockchain world, a nonce is a random number that is employed just once in cryptographic communication and many patterns can be analyzed from queried data sets. For example, the BTC network exerts a 32-bit (4-byte) field, a value that is customized by miners so that the hash is less than or equal to the current target of the network. ASIC miners produce patterns, which are easily identified and distinct when looking at data sets.
ASIC miners do try to hide by mimicking nonce selection with patterns that resemble non-ASIC machines. The April XMR fork that produced an extremely controversial four-way split saw large mining farms rejoin the network in just three days. The author notes, though, that miners had realized how to obfuscate nonce patterns. “ASIC manufacturers had learned from past mistakes and implemented random nonce picking,” the analysis explains. The report also adds that after the October fork last year, XMR developers had some success with the new Cryptonight variant, but ASIC miners quickly returned on “December 31st, 2018 near block 1,738,000.”
“At the time of writing the network hash rate has increased to 810 Mh/s or 255 percent since the first signs of the ASICs at the end of December 2018, or approximately 40 days ago,” the study explains.
The report further details:
With the given numbers and methodology we can finally conclude that the current network hashrate likely consists of 85.2 percent ASICs (5400 ASIC machines) and some die-hard GPU miners and botnets.
ASIC Resistance Continues to Fail
The Monero network is not the only project that has failed to thwart ASIC miners. In May last year, the Bitcoin Gold (BTG) protocol felt threatened by ASIC miners after the creation of the Equihash-based Antminer Z9 mining rig. Not too long after that, the BTG network was hijacked by a 51 percent attack and double spends. Similarly, another project that has tried to avoid ASIC domination is the Zcash protocol, but as of May 2018, research detailed that 30 percent of the network was mined by ASIC machines. Ethereum users last year were also concerned when Bitmain released its Antminer E3, a miner that processes the Ethhash (ETH) hashing algorithm. One Ethereum proponent explained at the time that “a regularly scheduled PoW change, like Monero” was needed.
ASIC resistance promises have continuously enticed manufacturers to produce machines that mine these coins. Another great example is when Sia network developers attempted to brick companies like Bitmain from creating Sia-based ASICs. Of course, the ASIC resistant endeavor met with disaster and the developers created the Obelisk algorithm. Ironically, ASICs rigs that mine Obelisk today are the most profitable ASIC mining rigs on the market and a decent machine will rake in $ 42 a day. Old school veterans will also never forget Charlie Lee’s attempt to create an ASIC-resistant cryptocurrency when he developed the Litecoin (LTC) network’s scrypt algorithm. When LTC first launched, ASIC resistance was supposed to be one of the project’s greatest benefits, but not too long after the launch, it turned out to be minable by application-specific semiconductors.
Once again, Monero developers are faced with a decision of whether to continue trying to fork off so ASIC miners cannot dominate the network. The threat comes at a time when ASIC mineable networks with very low hashrates are extremely susceptible to 51 percent attacks and reorganizations. With lots of studies detailing how easily ASIC farms command these protocols, the question remains: is ASIC resistance just a cat and mouse game that’s destined to bring little more than fleeting results?
What do you think about the research paper that explains ASIC miners control more than 85 percent of the XMR hashrate? Do you think developers should continue fighting ASICs or is ASIC resistance a waste of time? Let us know what you think about this subject in the comments section below.
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The post Report Claims 85% of the Monero Network Dominated by ASIC Miners appeared first on Bitcoin News.
During the first month of 2019, studies have revealed the growing trend of unknown miners processing blocks on the Bitcoin Core (BTC) network. A few years ago, most mining pools began revealing their identity via the coinbase parameter when they found a block. Over the last two years, however, unknown miners have started to dominate as established operations have lost a considerable share of hashrate.
Unknown Bitcoin Miners Have Been Shifting Hashrate Dominance
The bitcoin mining industry is extremely competitive, with the overall SHA-256 hashrate for major public blockchains growing immensely over the years. Between the two most popular mined SHA-256 coins, bitcoin cash (BCH) and bitcoin core (BTC), 41.8 exahashes per second (EH/s) are currently securing both chains. A recent study from the researchers at Diar explains how unknown miners are shifting the dominance of major known mining pools.
“Unknown miners closed December having solved a whopping 22% of the total blocks up from 6% at the start of last year,” explains Diar’s research report. It continues:
The small miner exodus could be a possible positive for Bitcoin’s network security as smaller miners joined to the hip of large pools began turning off their computing power resulting in a decline in mining pool dominance.
The researchers say there could be “concerns” with the growth of unknown mining pools. Diar’s report explains that just because the miner chooses not to disclose its identity doesn’t mean the source of the hash power isn’t an existing known pool. The researchers note that the three large pools of Btc.com, Antpool, and Viabtc have all seen their percentage of total hashrate decline over the past year, even though they have added a 55 percent increase in pooled resources. In January of 2018, those three combined pools had 53 percent of the network while now they have less than 39 percent the report details.
Coinmetrics Notices the Resurgence of Mystery Miners After Parsing 450,000 BTC Blocks
Diar is not the only analysis team that has picked up on this growing trend of unknown mining pools. During the first week of 2019, cryptocurrency analytics site Coinmetrics noticed the same thing. After parsing the coinbase outputs from the last 450,000 BTC blocks, the researchers noted that one mystery arising from the charts is “the resurgence of unknown miners.” Coinmetrics details that between mid-2015 and mid-2017, most miners disclosed their identity through the coinbase parameter to identify themselves with the name of their pool.
“However, through 2018, unknown miners picked up — This may be due to the waning importance of miner signaling due to the resolution of the Segwit saga, a newly-found appreciation for privacy, or the emergence of miners who have something to hide,” explains Coinmetrics’ granular mining pool mapping research.
Unknown Mining Pools Have Increased Since the Peak of the 2017 Scaling Debate
The resurgence of unknown miners is also prevalent within the BCH network. During the first few months after Aug. 1, 2017, the BCH network had a significant amount of unknown miners processing blocks. This period of time is when the shift seemingly began for both the BTC and BCH networks as it introduced the possibility for SHA-256 mining pools to switch between both chains depending on profitability.
Since then, the rise of unknown mining pool sightings on both chains has continued to increase, and during the Nov. 15, 2018 BCH chain split, there was a huge influx of unknown miners on both networks. At the time of publication, unknown mining entities make up more than 17 percent of the BCH network. Similarly, on Jan. 28, 2019, the BTC chain’s hashrate distribution shows there’s roughly 22.7 percent of unknown miners processing BTC blocks.
What do you think about the resurgence of unknown miners taking away the dominance of known mining pools? Let us know what you think about this subject in the comments section below.
Image credits: Shutterstock, Pixabay, Diar, Coinmetrics, Blockchain.com, and Coin Dance.
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The post Mystery Bitcoin Miners Are Altering Mining Pool Dominance appeared first on Bitcoin News.