It used to be China that dominated bitcoin mining. Last year it was thought that perhaps 60% of the world’s bitcoin mines were there with many of them perched high in the mountains in Yunnan and Sichuan and powered on cheap ad-hoc deals with local hydro companies.
Beijing said it “disapproved” so the miners started to look for other places with cheap power and friendly governments. Many headed to Canada and to hydro-rich Quebec and the neighboring US state of Washington. That was until authorities in the States and Canada made it clear their energy-hungry ways weren’t exactly welcome.
“If you want to come settle here, plug in your servers and do bitcoin mining, we’re not really interested,” the Premier of Quebec Philippe Couillard said in March.
Today, a lot of the world’s crypto miners seem to be in northern Europe.
Iceland made the news last month after this normally low-crime island suffered a wave of bitcoin server thefts. The recent bitcoin mining boom, said Icelandic police, had also brought in organized crime gangs from overseas.
And now Norway is the headlines too as Canadian HIVE Blockchain Technologies has just announced it has purchased American-Norwegian data center owner Kolos.
Norway’s power supply is 100% renewable and Kolos is currently building what it claims will be the world’s biggest data center there, on a 64-hectare site in Ballangen, 225 kilometers north of the Arctic Circle. HIVE says it will now use the site for its blockchain and cryptocurrency infrastructure business.
The site’s northern location means it is naturally climate-cooled and has close proximity to an abundant hydroelectricity supply that HIVE says it can purchase for “highly competitive rates”. The local municipality is said to “strongly support” the project.
HIVE will join American bitcoin mining equipment supplier Bitfury, which last week opened a new $35-million mining data center in Norway.
Norway currently has no specific regulations restricting crypto-trading or mining and, by comparison to many countries, has established a liberal crypto-tax scheme. Investors have to pay a 25% capital gains tax but, unlike in the States, any losses can be written off.
At the Bitfury data center launch, Norway’s Minister of Trade and Industry Torbjørn Røe Isaksen said he was “delighted” that the American bitcoin miner was in Norway.
“It has been important for us to facilitate the opening of more data centers in Norway,” he told local media. “We have green power, so this can create jobs and investments in new technology.”
And who can argue with that?