Despite being touted as the next potential haven for Bitcoin mining, following the crackdown in China, Quebec is starting to seem like a less likely option after its government expressed unwillingness to provide cheap electricity to miners.
As per a report by Bloomberg, the Quebec government – which owns utility Hydro-Quebec – expressed its doubts over the alleged lack of any actual contribution by Bitcoin miners to the province’s economy and society. Speaking at a conference in Montreal last week, Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard said:
“If you want to come settle here, plug in your servers and do Bitcoin mining, we’re not really interested. There needs to be added value for our society; just having servers to do transaction mining and acquire new Bitcoins, I don’t see the added value.”
Couillard’s statement raises uncertainty and may signal a setback for Bitcoin miners who have been looking to set up shop in Canada’s energy-rich Quebec province after China, as part of its wider crypto crackdown, began guiding Bitcoin miners toward an “orderly exit” from the country.
Prominent among these, Bitmain (one of the largest Bitcoin mining operations), expressed the intent to expand to Canada earlier this year, after China’s clampdown.
Couillard went on to state that the province was, instead, looking for companies interested in creating “a real eco-system or a real technological transformation centered on blockchain.”
Last week, Hydro-Quebec also warned that it would be unable to provide cheap electricity to all the companies looking to operate in the province – more than 30 applications were submitted during January this year. While Hydro-Quebec boasts a “huge network with lots of capacity” it added that it “cannot host the entire planet”, and might possibly set a higher tariff for crypto miners.
Cryptocurrency mining is notoriously and contentiously energy-intensive, owing to the huge amount of computing power required. Last month, for example, an Icelandic energy firm reported that the energy consumption of Bitcoin mining firms in the country is likely to exceed that of all the homes in Iceland. However, so far no alternate method for crypto mining exists, and miners remain in search of countries with cheap electricity and cooler climates.