Despite Multi-Billion Dollar Industry, Quebec Premier Not Interested In Bitcoin Miners
According to Bloomberg, the Quebec Premier stated during a conference in Montreal recently that he was “not interested” in providing cheap electricity to Bitcoin miners.
At the conference, Premier Philippe Couillard said that he does not see the value in Bitcoin mining. While he’s open to companies working with blockchain technology to create innovations and even use digital currencies to finance their projects, he believes that these projects need to add value to society.
The Bitcoin mining industry reached $2.74 billion USD ($3.54 billion CAD) in value as of August 2017, according to the New Currency Frontier. Despite this large industry creating many jobs, Couillard believes that having servers undergoing transaction mining nevertheless does not qualify as adding value to Canada’s ecosystem.
At the beginning of 2018, many countries like China abruptly banned digital currencies. Mining operators went in search of places where they are welcome and where there are low energy prices. Hydro-Quebec became a highly favourable area, especially with Canada’s political stability, however, due to electricity limitations, Hydro-Quebec could no longer accept any more mining projects.
According to an interview with Bloomberg, Eric Martel CEO of Hydro-Quebec stated that Quebec currently has over 40 data centres that use roughly 350 megawatts. In two years, that could reach 1,000 megawatts based on projections and estimates. Despite the significant increase in demand, the government is however displeased with the growth and nature of Bitcoin mining in Quebec.
Government pushes back on mining craze
Although mining for digital currencies was a growing trend in Canada, the government’s hostility towards digital currencies may signify large changes for miners in the region. The government’s response was, however, a great contrast to Hydro-Quebec’s commercial energy strategy in January 2018 where Martel encouraged and courted miners to the province.
On the other end of the country, Vancouver-based Hut 8 just went live on the TSX Venture Exchange, claiming to be the world’s largest publicly traded digital currency mining company. Unfortunately, it seems this excitement didn’t make its way to Quebec.
“If you want to come settle here, plug in your servers and do Bitcoin mining, we’re not really interested,” said Couillard at the Montreal conference. “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.”
Hydro-Quebec “can’t host the planet”
Canada’s digital currency mining industry was in an unclear state from the end of 2017 to the beginning of 2018. However, in January 2018, Canada quickly became a new nirvana for digital currency miners. With excess electricity, low power costs, a stable political environment, a large digital mining ecosystem, and strong partnerships which could potentially improve practices for the digital currency mining industry, Hydro-Quebec’s invitation to the province gained a lot of interest, much more interest than initially anticipated.
“If all we do is connect the Bitcoin miners who have applied, we could create an issue for ourselves,” said Martel. “There are limits to what we can do. I have a huge network with lots of capacity, but I cannot host the entire planet.”
Canada was regarded by Business Insider as potentially “the world’s bitcoin mining capital,” in January 2018 however, the local government appears to be putting a stop to the influx of miners looking to leverage off Hydro-Quebec. Although they see very little value with Bitcoin mining, they, however, remain interested in Bitcoin’s underlying technology and are also open to companies that raised capital with digital currencies.
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