Bitcoin Mining Puts Crimp In Quebec's Energy Capacity

Hydro Québec, the largest utility in Canada, is being forced to review its energy strategy amid the surging demand caused by mining of digital currencies.

According to last week's report in Reuters, Hydro Québec’s spokesman said that it won’t have enough long-term capacity to meet the expected demand, given the fact that potential mining projects are now at 70, more than doubling in one week alone. The energy company expects to have an energy surplus equal to 100 terawatt hours during the course of the next decade. One terawatt hour can power 60,000 homes in Québec for a year.

Bitcoin mining of digital tokens requires a significant amount of computing processing, which in turn requires a large amount of energy. With China cracking down on cryptocurrencies and cryptocurrency mining, many bitcoin mining operations are now looking for sites in Québec, which is rich in energy.

Bitmain Technologies, which runs some of China's biggest cryptocurrency mining farms, is one of the companies looking for Québec locations. GMO Internet, the Japanese bitcoin mining company, is also looking, but hasn’t yet decided if it will set up operations in Québec.

“We are receiving dozens of demands each day. This context is prompting us to clearly define our strategy,” said Hydro Québec spokesman Marc-Antoine Pouliot in an interview with Reuters. “We won’t be able to power all the projects that we’re receiving. This is evolving very rapidly, so we have to be prudent.”

The company is also interested in luring data centers to the region, which creates more job opportunities than bitcoin mining. Concerns about energy demand in Québec is resulting in some startups breaking down their bitcoin mining projects into smaller ones.

“This is the tip of the iceberg, as only a fraction of the initiatives have [sic] reached out to Hydro Québec yet,” said Laurent Feral-Pierssens, executive director of emerging technologies at KPMG Canada. The executive works with digital currency miners that want to open operations in Québec.



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