One of the most overlooked elements of the cryptocurrency revolution is the game-changing economics at work in crypto mining. Mining bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies requires specialized hardware, a strong internet connection, a lot of electricity — as much as possible — and not much else. It’s good if the area is naturally cold, to save on air conditioning costs for keeping the mining hardware cool, but even that’s negotiable. As a result, some truly out of the way places have become major hubs for cryptocurrency mining.
Here are five surprising places where crypto mining has become a true local industry.
1. Medicine Hat, Canada: Located along the banks of the South Saskatchewan River in Alberta, the city of Medicine Hat is mostly known for having some of the most productive natural gas fields in Canada. All of that industrial infrastructure means that electricity is cheap in Medicine Hat, a fact that caught the attention of cryptocurrency mining firm Hut 8 when they were looking to expand operations in 2017. Combined with their facility in nearby Drumheller, Hut 8 has access to a mind-boggling 66.7 MW for cryptocurrency mining.
2. Kirishi, Russia: Home to several oil refineries, chemical plants, and a thermal power station, the chilly Russian city of Kirishi lies just inside the arctic circle. Combine a cold climate with inexpensive industrial electricity, and you have a perfect place to do some large-scale cryptocurrency mining. Not surprisingly, the Austrian-owned firm Cryptouniverse announced plans to open a 4000 square meter facility in the town in 2021.
3. Reykjavík, Iceland: In 2013, Genesis Mining grabbed plenty of headlines in the tech press by announcing plans to launch the world’s first large-scale Ethereum mining facility. Their idea was simple. Mining crypto requires a lot of electricity, and it also generates a tremendous amount of heat in the process. Iceland has cheap geothermal power, and as the many glaciers in the country prove, it is naturally cold all year long. The island country has since become home to several cryptocurrency mining companies.
4. Ordos, Inner Mongolia: Although technically part of the People’s Republic of China, Inner Mongolia is a relatively independent “autonomous region” within the country, allowing local governments more freedom to experiment with economic and industrial ideas. This, combined with a cool climate and ample electricity from the nearby industrial parks, made Ordos the natural choice for Bitmain’s massive — the biggest in the world by some accounts — cryptocurrency mining facility.
5. Wenatchee, Washington: Located in the semi-rural, north-central region of Washington state, Wenatchee doesn’t exactly have a reputation as a technology hub. If anything, the town of just 34,000 residents would prefer to be known as the “Apple Capital of the World,” their unofficial nickname due to the large number of orchards in the area. Thanks to cheap power from the many hydroelectric dams on the Columbia River, however, several cryptocurrency mining firms — including the massive Giga Watt facility — have set up shop in and around the city.