Two illegal Bitcoin mining gas-fired power plants in Canada are forced to shut down. That has been decided by the competent authority of the province of Alberta. However, the operators do not want to give up and continue elsewhere in Alberta – then with the necessary permits. There are tens of thousands of decommissioned gas sources in the region, the traditional operation of which is no longer profitable. For a few megawatts of the kind that Bitcoin miners can consume on site, they are a cheap source of energy.
The joint stock company Link Global Technologies wanted to take advantage of this. It has rented two decommissioned gas sources from MAGA Energy and installed small power plants and containers with Bitcoin mining hardware on site. In a remote region near the Saskatchewan border, the generators generated 3.5 megawatts; in Sturgeon, a town outside the city of Edmonton, it was 5 megawatts. Bitcoin mining has been running day and night since summer 2020 – and of course the necessary generators.
But in Sturgeon the facility was close to a posh residential complex. Its residents had moved to a quiet place and suddenly found themselves exposed to the noise of the generators and ventilation systems. The calm-loving Canadians climbed the barricades. “It’s almost like warming up an aircraft engine on the apron,” said a local resident of the noise CBC, Canada’s English-language public broadcaster. Another thought planes were landing on the lawn behind his house. Ten households eventually complained to the Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC).
The authority has initially imposed a provisional and now a final operating ban. Because Link Global hadn’t even bothered to obtain permits or certificates. In light of this news, Link Global had to suspend trading of its shares on Wednesday. At 42.5 Canadian cents (closing price Tuesday), these are so-called penny stocks.
Theoretically, generators under 10 megawatts may be operated in Alberta for personal use without a permit if they do not impair anyone, comply with noise protection regulations and do not have a negative impact on the environment. Link Globals generators are too loud at night, impair neighbors and burn natural gas, which has an impact on the environment in the form of CO2 emissions.
“It’s my fault,” said Link Global CEO Stephen Jenkins to the CBC, “I take full responsibility. We didn’t involve the neighbors.” An attempt to only charge Bitcoin during the day has not appeased the regulator. Due to the emissions, the system either requires approval from the regulatory authority or a clearance certificate from an environmental authority.
Jenkins argues with benefits for the environment: Methane, a greenhouse gas, escapes from some fallow gas sources. Since his company only uses fallow gas sources and does not drill new ones, he can avoid methane pollution: “I do not want to say that we are in the business of methane destruction, but we are in the business of taking advantage of these potential methane sources. We burn that correctly. We don’t flare it so we can control these emissions. ” In addition, the waste heat from its computing systems could be used for agriculture.
According to its own information, Link Global can calculate 1.2 Bitcoin per day from 10 MW of power. One unit of this cryptocurrency is worth tens of thousands of euros this year. You can easily get over the first partial fine of the AUC of 25,000 to 75,000 Canadian dollars (17,000 to 64,000 euros). The amount of a second part of the penalty is still open.
Alberta’s gas is cheap
In any case, Jenkins wants to continue. If there is no agreement with the neighbors, then with another closed gas source. There are tens of thousands of them. If it doesn’t work in Alberta, then in the neighboring provinces of Saskatchewan or British Columbia.
According to the CBC, his company isn’t the only one in Alberta. A company called Upstream Data has been using natural gas that would otherwise be flared to generate electricity for Bitcoin mining since 2017. The US company Black Rock Petroleum plans to bring up to a million Bitcoin mining cards from the People’s Republic of China to Alberta natural gas sources. The People’s Republic has banned Bitcoin mining with reference to the absurd energy consumption, so that the hardware is now sold there cheaply.
Hut 8 Mining has been mining for Bitcoins in Alberta since 2018. To do this, she buys cheap electricity from legal gas-fired power plants. From up to 109 megawatts, it calculates up to 1073 petahashes per second in Medicine Hat and Drumheller – until it gets too hot.