Dec 28 2017

Turkish bitcoin barns benefit from “free” electricity

In Turkey’s less-developed southeast region, around 65 percent of electricity used is never paid for, and this “free” electricity tapped directly from the grid has led to a frenzy of bitcoin mining, Türkiye newspaper said.

One of the main problems for bitcoin miners – who use computers to make calculations based on blocks of numbers and are rewarded with a virtual “coin” when they successfully discover certain combinations – is keeping their electric bills low. The industry as a whole consumes 32 terrawatt-hours of energy annually, the newspaper said.

As a result, the prospect of free stolen energy has led to a bitcoin-mining boom in Turkey’s southeast, with miners concealing their technology near energy-intensive places such as irrigation hubs and industrial plants.

“In particular,” Türkiye said, “bitcoin production is taking place with electricity taken from transformers located near barns.”

But the area’s main electricity company, Dicle Electricity Distribution, is fighting back. The company said it had installed 300,000 electricity meters and has established 300 mobile teams to scour the countryside for bitcoin facilities and others using illegal electricity.

The issue comes in the midst of wider unease about cryptocurrencies in Turkey. The country’s main religious authority, the Diyanet, issued a fatwa against them last month.

An internal report commissioned by the country’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), meanwhile, emphasised that cryptocurrencies were difficult for the state to monitor and tax, and that it was almost impossible to freeze or seize assets held in bitcoin.

 

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