News | Feb 6, 2024
Court Denies Crypto Miner’s Power Request
Conifex Timber Inc., a forestry company that ventured into cryptocurrency mining, faced a setback in its efforts to secure a substantial power supply from BC Hydro for its operations. The B.C. Supreme Court, led by Justice Michael Tammen, upheld the provincial government’s decision to temporarily halt new power connections for cryptocurrency miners, a policy introduced in December 2022 to last for 18 months. This decision was deemed “reasonable,” reflecting a cautious approach towards the allocation of the province’s electrical resources.
Cryptocurrency mining, known for its intensive energy consumption due to the continuous operation of high-powered computers, has been a topic of debate regarding its economic benefits versus environmental impact. BC Hydro’s CEO, Christopher O’Riley, highlighted the enormity of the power demand by revealing that the data centers proposed by Conifex would have required 2.5 million megawatt-hours of electricity annually, an amount sufficient to power over 570,000 apartments. This revelation brings to light the significant energy footprint associated with such operations, raising questions about the sustainability of large-scale cryptocurrency mining.
The Energy Minister, Josie Osborne, pointed out that despite the high energy consumption, cryptocurrency mining contributes “very few jobs” to the local economy, suggesting a misalignment with broader economic development goals.
Conifex’s response to the court’s decision was one of disappointment, with the company expressing its belief in the missed opportunities for the provincial government to enhance energy affordability, foster technological innovation, and achieve more inclusive economic growth.
The issue utility providers worldwide must address is the challenge of balancing the power demand from cryptocurrency mining with the goals of clean energy and electrification, especially as the adoption of electric vehicles and heat pumps increases. The global context of cryptocurrency mining, with moratoriums in places like China, Algeria, and some U.S. states, has led to a surge in demand for power in regions like British Columbia, further complicating the energy landscape.
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