Digital Energy Council, a recently founded crypto mining organization, lobbied for friendly policy outside the White House in Washington on August 16, 2023. The campaign was a response to a new mining tax proposal put forward by the Biden administration a few months earlier, involving a harsh 30% tax on the electricity used for crypto mining. According to the relevant figures, since China’s crypto mining ban in 2021, the United States has gradually become the global center for BTC mining and boasts over 35% of the world’s total hashrate.
Along with the introduction of ASIC miners, the global BTC mining industry’s hashrate scale has continued to expand, resulting in fierce competition. In crypto mining, electricity cost is a key concern among miners. At the moment, the U.S. stands as the world’s largest BTC mining hub. Nonetheless, if the proposed mining tax gains approval, local mining companies and miners might face more financial pressures, and they may even have to consider relocating their mining operations.
What are the countries/regions that offer cheap electricity prices? Today, we will compare electricity costs across the world to unveil the cost competitiveness of BTC mining in different regions.
Data from TokenView, a blockchain explorer, suggests that on August 15, Bitcoin miners produced 1,087.01 BTC. At the current BTC hashrate (417.53 EH/s), assuming that all BTC miners use ANTMINER S19XP, which offers a unit power consumption of 22 W/T, the BTC network would roughly consume: 417.53×10⁶×22×10^(-3)×24=220,455,840 kWh.
Therefore, the electricity required to produce 1 BTC would be:
We can then determine the power cost of producing 1 BTC in different regions based on GlobalPetrolPrices’ statistics on commercial electricity from December 2022.
It should be noted that in certain regions, the electricity used for mining might not be commercial, and miners who operate their mining business near power plants could acquire prices significantly lower than commercial rates. Additionally, some countries might provide policies such as subsidies when it comes to electricity used for crypto mining. Therefore, the data above is for reference only, as actual figures might vary.
Despite that, the above table leads to several clear conclusions:
In North America, electricity price shows regional differences. In terms of commercial electricity, Canada boasts a relatively low cost of $0.099 per kWh, whereas the United States charges $0.146 per kWh. Furthermore, certain areas in Canada, such as Quebec and parts of Alberta, offer costs as low as $0.04, as they are rich in electricity. The low prices have attracted many publicly-listed mining companies, including Hut8 and Hive Blockchain, to establish operations in Canada.
Electricity prices drastically vary between European nations. Impacted by geopolitical tensions, the surge in natural gas prices across Europe in 2022 sent electricity prices soaring in most European countries. In countries like Germany, Austria, the UK, Denmark, and France, commercial electricity is priced at over $0.3. Countries with ample renewable energy like Iceland, on the other hand, offer relatively low commercial electricity prices, as low as $0.071.
Owing to the vast geographical expanse, Asia’s price gaps are massive. With abundant gas reserves and over 60% of global oil reserves, the Middle East offers relatively low electricity prices. For instance, commercial electricity in Lebanon, Syria, and Qatar is priced below $0.04. In contrast, commercial electricity can be a lot more expensive in countries heavily reliant on energy imports like South Korea and Japan.
Other regions like Russia, Australia, and Brazil also come with significantly varying electricity prices, which are influenced by factors such as energy supply and market competition.
When considering relocation, BTC miners must account for a wide range of factors. Beyond electricity costs, factors including local policies, cultural norms, climatic conditions, and facility quality should also be examined. In particular, over recent years, miners in different regions have struggled with political or regulatory opposition, leading to restrictions like increased electricity taxes, suspensions, and even bans.
As BTC mining becomes increasingly complicated, miners should ensure the stable operation of the network, in addition to the investment in mining rigs, facility establishment, and maintenance personnel. Once a mining operation is in place, shutdown or relocation would incur substantial costs. As such, for BTC miners, finding a politically stable mining environment is the key.