Crypto Miners Blamed for Power Outage in Irkutsk, Russia

There has been a power outage in eastern Russia’s Irkutsk region for some time now, blaming native crypto miners. According to the Irkutsk Electric Grid Company (IESC), electricity consumption in the region increased by 108 percent last year. Local administrators raided the area and reportedly uncovered 1,100 cases of “gray mining”. The term refers to crypto mining from home, where equipment is installed in apartment basements, garages, residential premises as well as balconies.

“In Irkutsk, 21 electrical installations suspected of cryptocurrency mining were identified. Mining equipment was installed on balconies, in the basements of residential complexes and apartment buildings,” the region’s electricity provider Irkutskenergosbyt said in a post.

Often called the “crypto mining capital of Russia”, the cost of electricity in Irkutsk is six times less than the average price of electricity in other parts of the country. Therefore, residents of the area often use their subsidized household electricity to mine cryptocurrencies, said a report by Bitcoin.com.

Details about measures to control crypto mining activities in Irkutsk are not yet clear.

According to Cambridge researchers, mining bitcoin consumes about 121.36 terawatt-hours (TWh) of energy a year.

The process of crypto mining is also associated with massive carbon emissions, a concern amid ongoing environmental issues.

Mining operations for the four major cryptocurrencies released an estimated 13 million metric tons of carbon dioxide between 1 January 2016 and 30 June 2018, as claimed in a research report last year.

Last year, after China banned all crypto-related activities, Tesla chief Elon Musk commented that a lack of electricity could be a major factor behind China’s decision.

“A lot of South China is having random power outages right now because the demand for electricity is higher than expected. Cryptocurrency mining could play a part in this,” Musk said at the time.

In November 2021, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) estimated a five-fold increase in energy loads to support crypto mining and data centers.

The revelation came after residents of the US state of Texas complained that the crypto-mining process was eating up the area’s electricity supply.


Interested in cryptocurrency? We discuss all things Orbital with WazirX CEO Nischal Shetty and WeekendInvesting Founder Alok Jain on the Gadgets 360 podcast. Orbital is available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music and wherever you get your podcasts.
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