EU powerless against un-green Bitcoin
Europe is powerless to do anything to stop Bitcoin mining on environmental grounds. The European Commission says that while it is aware of concerns around rising electricity consumption for mining cryptocurrencies, there is no legal basis for forbidding or even limiting it.
As crypto mining is not an illegal activity, Brussels has not put in place any means to track it. “However, the impact of cryptocurrencies on energy demand is a new factor driving energy demand and will be kept under review by the Commission,” says Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for the digital economy and society.
In fact, Gabriel looks to be letting the market do the regulatory work.
“The mining business model seems to be based on expectations of high valuation of the cryptocurrencies,” she points out. “As long as the price of electricity covers the electricity production costs, the growing electricity consumption, and cost, is likely to modify the demand for and value of cryptocurrencies.”
Crypto mining demands a huge amount of energy and computing power and Bitcoin alone is set to consume an annual 42TWh of electricity a year.
China is home to a majority of cryptocurrency mining operations, while many miners are looking to move to Canada to lean on cheaper energy, though local politicians aren’t exactly rolling out the red carpet. In Europe, Iceland is set to use more energy mining Bitcoin than powering its homes this year and the small coastal town of Keflavik itself boasts three of the country’s largest Bitcoin mining farms. However, the country is not part of the EU.
Mining looks to have engendered a new kind of crime in Iceland, though. Some 600 servers used for mining Bitcoin were stolen in the country in December and January, with the authorities speculating that criminals were looking to use the hardware to mine crypto themselves.
Image: Tourism Iceland