This week, the grand opening of the largest bitcoin farm in the world was overshadowed by a statement from the city that they would be temporarily shut down in event that a heat wave overloaded capacity. BitFury and Hut 8 set up the mining farm in Medicine Hat, Canada with the expectation that they would be welcome in a region that is known as a top energy producer.
Over $100 million has been invested in the giant mining operation, with 56 shipping containers spread over a 4.5 hectare plot. The bitcoin farm consumes roughly the same amount of electricity as the entire Medicine Hat City, which is home to over 60,000 people, generating 20 bitcoins a day in the process.
Andrew Kiguel, Hut 8’s CEO made the following statement:
Medicine Hat has enough power capacity to service both Hut 8's load and the city's load through a heat wave, without any blackouts. In the event of equipment failure, the load to Hut 8 would be curtailed, as is standard for any industrial power producer.
Despite the heat wave caveat, Medicine Hat mayor Ted Clugston seemed generally welcome to crypto in an interview given at the mining farm on Monday. Clugson admitted that he knows very little about cryptocurrency, but said that he was happy to sell BitFury and Hut 8 electricity. Still, he feels that the industry is nonessential, and will be the first to get cut off in cases of emergency or scarcity.
Andrew Kiguel, CEO of Hut 8 said that people who have lost faith in traditional banking institutions see crypto as an extremely valuable tool. Kiguel stated:
Bitcoin was created during the financial crisis. It has really served a purpose in terms of providing the opportunity for people who don't necessarily trust their government or their central banks.
The mayor has received pressure from groups concerned about the amount of energy that the bitcoin farm would use. However, there are many misconceptions behind fears of cryptocurrency representing an environmental danger.
Critics argue that cryptocurrency mining operations could make better efforts to use sustainable energy sources, however, proponents of the technology insist the energy consumption is smaller than traditional banking and credit card companies. It has even been calculated that Bitcoin mining uses less electricity annually than seasonal Christmas lights.
As CryptoGlobe recently reported, Bitfury, one of the companies behind the mining farm, revealed a new ASIC chip that they touted as being, “unparalleled in performance and efficiency.”
Cryptocurrency advocates say that the temporary shutdown of even a large bitcoin mining operation such as Medicine Hat would have a minimal impact on the network, because it comprises a very small portion of the global distributed hashrate.