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Police in China Seizes 4,000 Crypto Miners After Abnormal Energy Spike

China’s police confiscated 4,000 crypto mining units that were illegally deployed at nine factories.

Police in China arrested 22 suspects allegedly involved in illegal crypto mining activity that led to energy loss worth of about $3 million, local media outlet XinhuaNet reports on July 12.

Police in Jiangsu, China’s eastern-central coastal province, have reportedly seized 4,000 hardware units that were illegally used to mine cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin (BTC) at nine factories.

According to the report, Jiangsu police launched a criminal investigation after a local power firm reported an abnormal spike in electricity consumption. After almost two months of investigation, the police in the city of Zhenjiang in Jiangsu detected a group of criminals allegedly involved in the case.

Each mining unit was deploying 25 to 50 kilowatt hours of electricity at industrial prices per day, with the criminals having reportedly stolen power worth of around 20 million Chinese yuan ($2.91 million), the Zhenjiang-based power supply company reported.

China is a known crypto mining giant, reportedly responsible for 70% of all cryptocurrencies generated annually despite the ban of bitcoin trading in 2017. Many Bitcoin mining pools are based in China due to the massive surplus of cheap electricity. The country is home to Bitmain, the world’s largest crypto-mining hardware producer that manufacture crypto-specific mining computer chips known as ASICs.

Earlier in June, police in China collected evidence of people laying cables via fish ponds to steal oil well power to fuel their Bitcoin mining. Meanwhile, unconfirmed reports suggest that some Chinese miners are also setting up operations in Iran due to the cheap energy prices.

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Energy Used by Idle Devices in the US Can Power Bitcoin For 4 Years

Academic researchers at the University of Cambridge have launched a real-time index that tracks the total electricity consumption of the bitcoin network.

Academic researchers at the University of Cambridge (UoC) have launched a real-time index that tracks the total electricity consumption of the Bitcoin network.

The news was revealed in an announcement posted by the university’s interdisciplinary academic research institute, the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance (CCAF), on July 2.

The now-live Index — the Cambridge Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index, or CBECI — gives an estimate of the total annualized energy consumption of the bitcoin network, updated every thirty seconds. The researchers also provide a tool that compares BTC’s consumption levels with other electricity use case, alongside a range of parameters to contextualize the live data.

At press time, CBECI gives a reading of an estimated 7.15 gigawatts (GW), with an annualized 53.01 terawatt-hour (Twh) average. Lower and upper bound readings are provided in parallel to the main estimate — 2.68 GW (21.46 TWh) and 21.71 (146.45 TWh), respectively.

As commentators on crypto twitter have already picked up, the CBECI indicates that the electricity wasted each year by always-on but inactive home devices in the U.S. alone could apparently power the Bitcoin network for 4 years.

Conversely, the amount of power consumed by the Bitcoin network in one year could power all tea kettles used to boil water for 11 years in the United Kingdom, and 1.5 years in Europe (incl. the U.K.)

Bitcoin accounts an estimated 0.24% (20863 TWh) of total electricity consumption worldwide annually, per CBECI. A graph comparing the network with the total power consumption of nation-states globally ranks bitcoin as the 43rd “country” — consuming more power than a number of states including Romania, Denmark, Israel, Singapore, and Uzbekistan.  

CCAF notes that it has constructed the index in a bid to provide objective and neutral data that can be used by policymakers, regulators, researchers, and others and contribute to the debate over the sustainability and environmental impact of bitcoin mining. 

Few reliable estimates of the coin’s power usage have until now existed, CCAF claims, as most provide only a one-time snapshot, motivating the need for a more comprehensive analysis of the crypto industry’s carbon footprint. A second phase of the index and site’s development will reportedly include an interactive geographical map of mining facilities globally.

As reported, clean energy advocates have hit back against the notion that high energy use is an Achilles heel for bitcoin, arguing that the debate needs to shift from electricity consumption by mining towards where that energy is produced and how it is generated.

Earlier this month, crypto investment products and research firm CoinShares published a study indicating that an estimated 74.1% of BTC mining is powered by renewable energy sources.

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U.S. Clean Energy Firm Clearway Energy Will Test Blockchain for Renewable Energy Trading

US clean energy development firm Clearway Energy Group is launching a pilot program for trading renewable energy credits on a blockchain.

United States-based clean energy development firm Clearway Energy Group is launching a pilot program for trading renewable energy credits on a blockchain, Bloomberg reported on June 28.

Per the report, Clearway Energy partnered with Ethereum (ETH)-based energy trading startup Power Ledger to jointly build a system for trading renewable energy certificates. Power Ledger reportedly told Bloomberg that initially the solution will be tested in Massachusetts, generating one to five megawatts of electricity, while the second test will take place in the Midwest and generate upwards of 20 megawatts.

The report further notes that the U.S. renewable energy certificates market is currently valued at over $3 billion and suggests that transaction costs can add another 3% to 10% to the certificates themselves. According to Bloomberg, Power Ledger Executive Chairman Jemma Green said that while digital certificate trading options exist, their costs add up when they are aggregated through brokers or bilateral contracts across state lines.

Lastly, Green reportedly also announced that the company plans for the tests to continue for several months, and the service is planned for expansion in early 2020.

As Cointelegraph reported earlier this month, Power Ledger will roll out its peer-to-peer (P2P) network in Graz, the second-largest city in Austria.

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Iranian Authorities Confiscate 1,000 Bitcoin Mining Machines

Authorities in Iran have confiscated about 1,000 units of bitcoin mining machines from two now-defunct factories.

Authorities in Iran have confiscated about 1,000 units of bitcoin (BTC) mining machines from two now-defunct factories, BBC reported on June 28

As reported, local authorities noticed a surge in electricity consumption by 7% earlier in June and linked it to cryptocurrency mining activities. Officials subsequently discovered and removed the mining hardware from two former factories. 

Arash Navab, an electricity official, reportedly said that “two of these bitcoin farms have been identified, with a consumption of one megawatt.”

An Oxford researcher told the BBC that Iranians are increasingly turning to cryptocurrencies like bitcoin as a means of skirting sanctions.

Cointelegraph recently reported that Iranian BTC miners were moving into mosques as the government launches an energy crackdown. Iran, which offers free energy to mosques, now has around 100 miners occupying places of worship, generating around $260,000 a year.

The Iranian government thus will be cutting off power to crypto mining until new energy prices are approved. Mostafa Rajabi Mashhadi, an official at Iran’s Ministry of Energy, reportedly stated that crypto miners “will be identified and their electricity will be cut,” adding that the ministry must enforce such actions as the current overconsumption of electricity is “causing problem for other users.”

Unauthorized use of electricity for crypto mining has become widespread. Recently, police in China reportedly gathered evidence of people laying cables via fish ponds to steal oil well power to fuel their mining hardware.

In the German city of Klingenthal police reportedly tracked down a system of 49 computers operating on the premises of a former electrical services company. Since 2017, the mining farm has reportedly consumed as much electricity as 30 households, with the damage for the affected electricity supplier estimated to around 20,000 euros ($250,053).

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Iranian Government to Cut Off Power to Crypto Mining Until Approval of New Energy Prices

An official at Iran’s Ministry of Energy said that the authorities will have to cut off power to crypto mining due to energy overconsumption.

The Iranian government will be cutting off power to crypto mining until new energy prices are approved, according to a report by local news agency Iran Daily on June 24.

Mostafa Rajabi Mashhadi, an official at Iran’s Ministry of Energy, reportedly revealed that the country has seen a 7% spike of electricity consumption over a monthly period ending on June 21, 2019. 

Rajabi emphasized the unusual nature of the spike, as opposed to similar time spans in the past years, revealing that the country’s power grid had evidently become unstable. 

According to the official, the Iranian Ministry of Energy believes that the surge was caused by the growing number of crypto mining activity in the country, adding that the state will take necessary measures to prevent energy issues.

As such, Rajabi reportedly stated that crypto miners “will be identified and their electricity will be cut,” until the government approves the recent ministry’s proposal for a change in prices for crypto mining operations. Rajabi stated that the authority will have to enforce such an action since the current overconsumption of electricity is “causing problem for other users.”

On June 9, the deputy energy minister of Iran urged that electricity bills for the digital currency miners should be calculated in accordance with real prices, or the same rates established for power exports. 

Iran, a country that was reportedly profiting from crypto mining despite the bear market of 2018, pays about $1 billion in subsidies annually to bridge the gap in real electricity costs and what consumers are billed, a discount that cryptocurrency miners have been taking advantage of with gusto amid economic turmoil and sanctions. 

The country’s attitude toward crypto mining had been largely positive since September 2018, with major state authorities accepting mining as an industry.

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Blockchain-Based Energy Trading Firm to Optimize Solar Energy Distribution in Austria

Austria’s Graz to use DLT-enabled energy trading platform by Power Ledger in move toward zero-carbon energy.

Blockchain-based energy trading firm Power Ledger will roll out its peer-to-peer (P2P) network in Graz, the second-largest city in Austria, according to an announcement on June 18.

The Australia-based company has partnered with E-NEXT, an innovation arm of major Austria’s energy utility Energie Steiermark, to launch its blockchain-powered energy trading platform in and around Graz.

The initiative is an attempt to optimize energy distribution and to contribute to the city’s transition towards zero-carbon energy, the release notes. As such, Power Ledger’s technology is expected to enable rooftop solar energy-based households in the city to sell excess renewable energy to their neighbors, generating a monetary incentive for Graz residents to use such energy.

Power Ledger will initially roll out its service to 10 households in Graz, while the project reportedly has the potential to expand to more households in the city, as well as across the overall energy network of Austria.

According to the statement, Power Ledger’s blockchain-enabled platform enables anonymity of data on the energy distribution network in accordance with the privacy policies of the European Union, as specified in the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

City of Graz is reportedly the sole city in Austria’s Smart flagship project that intends to resolve major issues in the city, including meeting Graz’s zero emission and carbon neutral goals by 2050. Graz is also home to the country’s blockchain hub called BlockchainHub Graz.

According to the report, Power Ledger’s blockchain-based energy trading applications are now under pilot testing in a number of sites across its home country of Australia, as well as several other countries, including Thailand, Japan and the United States.

Cryptocurrency mining is often the subject of criticism on the basis of its environmental consequences. Recently, research found that carbon emissions generated by mining major cryptocurrency bitcoin (BTC) are comparable to the whole of Kansas City.

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China: Locals Allegedly Laying Cable via Fish Ponds to Steal Oil Well Power for BTC Mining

Police have reportedly gathered evidence of people laying cables via fish ponds to steal oil well power to fuel their BTC mining.

Police in China have reportedly gathered evidence of people laying cables via fish ponds to steal oil well power to fuel their bitcoin (BTC) mining. The news was reported by daily Chinese tabloid The Global Times on June 13.

The Global Times is published under the auspices of state-backed newspaper group The People’s Daily.

The report outlines that the Green Grassland Police Station of the Qiqihar District Public Security Bureau were alerted to the alleged power theft after receiving a call from the head of oil production at Daqing Oil Field — the largest oil field in China, located in Heilongjiang province.

In order to investigate the allegation, police reportedly conducted an airborne investigation using drones across a two kilometer area, and ostensibly gathered sufficient evidence to construct a criminal case.

The Global Times does not provide details as to the suspected persons involved, nor into the scale of the alleged electricity theft.

In October 2018, a Chinese citizen was sentenced to three and a half years in jail for stealing power from a train station to fuel his bitcoin mining operations.

In Taiwan, in December of last year, a citizen was arrested after being accused of electricity theft to mine bitcoin and ether (ETH) worth over 100 million yuan ($14.5 million).

This February, a group of suspects were arrested in the German city of Klingenthal, Saxony, after being accused of stealing over $3 million worth of electricity to operate a cryptocurrency mining farm.

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Chinese Authorities to Investigate Illegal Mining Farms at ‘Global Mining Capital’ Sichuan

Located at Sichuan’s Dadu river, the alleged illegal mining farms reportedly contain over 30,000 units of mining equipment.

The state authorities of China’s Sichuan province will investigate local bitcoin (BTC) mining farms that have been allegedly been built illegally, local media agency Sina reports on May 30.

Located at the bitcoin “global mining capital” of Sichuan, the bitcoin mining farms with over 30,000 bitcoin mining machines have been reportedly constructed without an official approval from the local government, and are thus subject for further examination.

Specifically, the alleged illegal mining farms are located along the Sichuan’s Dadu river, a major Chinese river that will host the world’s biggest embankment dam called Shuang Jiang Kou, which is currently under construction. The site purportedly provides one of the cheapest electricity prices for mining bitcoin.

An official from a local enforcement group claimed that the authorities are still investigating the matter and did not disclose more details on the situation.

The Sichuan province has been establishing itself as a global bitcoin mining capital since 2017, mostly due to its cheap electricity, low population density and cold climate. The province is one of the major Chinese sites favorable for cryptocurrency mining, with the others including Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia and Yunnan.

The combination of all these sites formulates China’s mining superpower, with the country reportedly controlling the majority of the largest bitcoin mining pools in the world.

According to Sina, 70% of the world’s bitcoin is mined in China, while 70% of the national bitcoin is mined in Sichuan province, primarily due to the Dadu River Basin’s electricity capability.

Recently, China’s National Development and Reform Commission, a governmental agency responsible for macroeconomic policies, has revealed that the authority is considering baning crypto mining in the country.

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Toyota, UTokyo and Trende to Test Blockchain-Based Electricity Trading System

The University of Tokyo, Toyota and Japanese online renewable energy retailer Trende Inc. plan to jointly conduct the tests.

The University of Tokyo, Japanese car manufacturer Toyota Motor Corporation and Japanese online renewable energy retailer Trende Inc. plan to jointly conduct tests for a blockchain-powered electricity system. The news was revealed in an official Toyota press release on May 23.

The pilot, scheduled for June 17, will reportedly test a peer-to-peer electricity system that allows homes, enterprises and electronic vehicles that are connected to the power grid to trade electricity using blockchain. The initiative will reportedly be focused on Toyota’s Higashifuji Technical Center and the surrounding area.

As the press release outlines, with distributed power supplies — including solar panels, secondary batteries and electric vehicles — gaining increasing traction, Japan’s national electricity supply system ostensibly remains in a transitional state. This transition entails a shift “from its traditional large-scale consolidated system to a distributed system,” whereby individuals and business would be the owners of their own power supply.

For this pilot, the partners will reportedly establish an electricity exchange that will be accessible to all participants, as well as installing an artificial intelligence (AI)-powered electricity management system — an electricity trading agent — in each participant’s premises.

This AI-based electricity trading agent will place buy and sell orders on the exchange on behalf of the participants, based upon their electrical consumption and calculated forecasts of the power to be generated by solar panels at their premises.

The press release claims the pilot represents the first test for a distributed electricity trading system that would encompass plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), solar panels and secondary batteries.

Stated aims include verifying the economic advantage of having “electricity consumers and prosumers trade electricity through market transactions,” and of using algorithms to predict the demands of PHEVs.

A prosumer is defined in the press release as being a coinage for “an electricity consumer who is also a producer of electricity using self-owned power generation equipment.”

As previously reported, Toyota partnered with blockchain advertising analytics firm Lucidity in fall 2018 to combat fraud in digital advertising campaigns.

This week, major automobile manufacturers Honda and General Motors announced their own joint research initiative into electric vehicle and smart grid interoperability using blockchain.