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Bitcoin Miners May Start Using Nuclear Power in Kazakhstan

Bitcoin could be mined with nuclear energy as the government advances in its debates to address energy shortage problems

According to the medium of Communication CryptoNews Energy Minister Magzum Mirzagaliyev told reporters that two sites were being considered as “potential sites” for a new nuclear power plant, namely a village called Ulken in the Alma-Ata region and Kurchatov, the city in east of Kazakhstan.

Mirzagaliyev stated:

We created a projection of the country’s electricity production and consumption through 2035. We clearly see the need to build a nuclear power plant to supply electricity to our population and our economy.

Although the minister did not directly mention Bitcoin and cryptocurrency mining, his colleagues have already done so when talking about the expansion of the network due to power outages linked to mining. The government sees this sector as a growth engine, but as the national electricity grid still relies on 70% of coal-fired power plants, he admitted that nuclear expansion might be the only way forward.

This winter saw enormous pressure placed on the grid, leading to power outages for many miners and millions of dollars in losses, both for licensed industrial miners and the national economy. Some miners said their mining centers were without power for up to a month.

Several reports estimate that around 88,000 mining rigs have migrated from the Chinese border to Kazakhstan since the September crackdown, increasing electricity use in many areas.

The energy minister warned that the proposed nuclear plant “will be able to cover the country’s future electricity needs”, but added that construction will take up to 10 years to complete.

The relationship between mining and nuclear power suppliers is starting to deepen, not just in Central Asia, but also in the United States and Europe. Several mining companies in the US have already started to receive power from nuclear reactors, while in Ukraine, the national nuclear power supplier has been working closely with miners on Europe’s largest nuclear power plants in an attempt to offset financial losses.

In many cases, data centers are being built alongside nuclear power plants. Some of them will be the size of four football fields. Other US mining projects are also underway, though federal approval is still needed for many of them, meaning miners may have to wait until 2023-2025 for a decision.

The scenario is very different in the former country that housed the Bitcoin miners: Mainland China. An Influential Economic Newspaper published this week a review claimed that in order to “completely eradicate” the chances of “the survival of cryptocurrencies in China”, a “zero tolerance” approach was needed for mining.

The newspaper concluded:

Whether we’re talking about mining or trading in cryptocurrencies, there’s no place for them in China.

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