Because of the noise, residents in the Canadian province of Alberta had complained. Authorities found several bitcoin mines that ran on natural gas.
In Canada, bitcoin miners have discovered natural gas as a cheap raw material for the electricity they need. They are specifically looking for natural gas sources that have been abandoned by their previous operators because they were no longer able to deliver the volume required for profitable operation.
Bitcoin mines in Canada’s Alberta province look like small trailer parks
Sources that were abandoned in this way, however, have not dried up. Such sources can be interesting for other companies and for other purposes – for example, for the operation of a Bitcoin mine. This is how the company Link Global Technologies, which already operates a number of small Bitcoin mines in Alberta, Canada, based on the locally produced gas, thought.
To do this, the company is installing some generators that burn the natural gas and generate electricity from it, as well as up to half a dozen converted shipping containers that house the mining hardware. With such a standard solution directly at its own gas power plant, Link Global Technologies can mine around 1.2 Bitcoin per day and location, provided the power plant has an output of ten megawatts.
Since Bitcoin remains highly volatile, profitability stands and falls with the costs of operation, which the company always keeps as low as possible. Anyone looking at one of the company’s mining facilities does not come up with the idea of high-tech, as can also be seen from the picture on the tweet above.
Residents can no longer sleep or spend time outdoors undisturbed
This was also the case with the residents of the small town of Sturgeon in the immediate vicinity of one of the Bitcoin mines. Link Global Technologies had commissioned a gas-fired power plant with an output of five megawatts. The residents felt like they were at the airport, they told the CBC. Depending on how the wind was, it would have sounded as if an airplane was warming up its engines or was standing on its own property just before landing. However, they did not expect a Bitcoin mine to be the cause of the misery.
After the residents had listened to this for a few months, they informed the authorities, who then took action. Companies in Canada are allowed to operate small power plants of up to 10 megawatts for their own needs. However, this only applies provided that the power plants do not cause any other pollution, such as affecting the neighborhood or the environment.
Neither was the case with the Bitcoin miner’s systems. Some residents even felt that they had been deprived of sleep and complained that they could no longer leave their windows open because of the noise. The authorities regarded the CO2 emissions as an inadmissible environmental damage.
Mining company wants to move on if necessary
The company initially claimed that it had carried out a noise protection test with a positive result, but was unable to provide any evidence. Link boss Stephen Jenkins then took the position that the company was doing something good for the environment by burning the methane gas that was already escaping instead of letting it escape into the atmosphere. He wanted to sell the waste heat to the disgruntled residents as district heating. That didn’t catch on with the authorities.
In the meantime the generators only run during the day and the mine has been surrounded by a wall of straw bales, which is supposed to serve as noise protection. It is unclear whether that will be enough.
If not, then not, says Jenkins. Then he would just close the site and move on. The effort for the company is manageable and there is no shortage of decommissioned gas sources. There are believed to be around 200,000 abandoned oil and gas wells in Alberta alone. This is attracting more and more miners to the region.
The story is reminiscent of the case of the residents of Seneca Lake in the US state of New York. However, a mining facility there actually had permission to use the lake water to cool its rigs. This is said to have heated the lake to whirlpool level. Now the miners even want to expand their activities there. For their part, the residents intend to influence the approval authorities and have their approval withdrawn.
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