Bitcoin mining to be banned in coal-heavy region of China

A Chinese province is cracking down on bitcoin mining operations in a bid to reduce energy and emissions.

Bitcoin miners have been attracted to China for its cheap , however its reliance on coal and other fossil fuels has raised questions about the network’s environmental impact. Current estimates put bitcoin’s energy requirements at around 130 terawatt- (TWh) annually, which would rank it in the top 30 electricity consumers worldwide if it were a country.

The Inner Mongolia Development and Reform Commission will force all new and existing cryptocurrency mines to close by April in order to meet its energy-saving targets.

A draft plan on the department’s website states a goal of cutting emissions and cutting energy consumption growth to about 5 million tons of standard coal. It is part of a broader pledge put forward by China to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060, and to begin reducing emissions in 2030. Bitcoin miners are increasingly looking to environmentally-friendly alternatives, with recent projections from the International Renewable Energy Agency finding that renewable energy sources are becoming more cost-efficient than fossil fuels.

The University of Cambridge’s 2020 Global Cryptoasset Benchmarking Study found that 76 per cent of cryptocurrency miners use electricity from renewable sources – up from 60 per cent in 2018.

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