The U.S. is now the top destination for Bitcoin miners, surpassing China for first time. It was trending in this direction already, but new data released by Cambridge University Wednesday confirms it.
According to the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance, 35.4% bitcoin’s hashrate, an industry term that describes the collective computing power and miners, was located in the United States as of July. This is a 428% increase over September 2020.
China is partly responsible for America’s newfound dominance within the mining industry.
China was the market leader for hashrate twelve months ago – but it wasn’t by much. However, half of the world’s bitcoin miners were taken offline by Beijing’s crypto crackdown during spring.
In what became known as the “great mining migration”, miners fled China in large numbers, seeking out the lowest cost energy sources. Many of them eventually ended up in America.
Newly released Cambridge data shows that China’s average monthly share in the global hashrate market in July was zeroed out. This is a significant change from September 2020 when China accounted for 67%.
Boaz Sobrado, an analyst in fintech data based in London, stated that “the whole narrative that China controls Bitcoin is now completely destroyed.”
For migrant Bitcoin miners looking for a new home, the U.S. checks many boxes.
One, Texas has some of the lowest energy prices in the world, which is an incentive for miners who work in low-margin industries, where energy is their only variable cost.
The United States is also rich in renewable energy sources.
Washington is the Mecca for Hydropowered Mining Farms. New York has the highest production of hydroelectric power east of the Rocky Mountains and counts its nuclear power plants towards its goal to 100% carbon-free electricity. Texas’ share in renewables has been increasing over time. 20% was generated by wind in 2019. The Texas grid continues to rapidly add solar power .
Miners all over the country are also using nuclear power. Some are securing their rigs to capture otherwise stranded energy such as natural gas that is going to waste in Texas’ oil fields. This helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and makes money for gas miners and gas providers.
The shift towards zero-emission, renewable energy sources has already started to change the narrative of those who believe that bitcoin is harmful for the environment.
Blockstream CEO Adam Back stated that mining is price sensitive. He said that the best way to find the lowest-cost power was to search for the most renewable power.
Some states in the United States, such as Texas, have lower electricity prices and crypto-friendly policymakers. They also have a sufficient supply of hosting infrastructure.
The state operates a deregulated power grid that allows customers to choose from power providers. It is also pro-crypto. These are ideal conditions for miners looking for cheap and kind energy sources.
“If you are looking to move hundreds of millions of Chinese miners from China, you need to ensure that you have the right geographic, political and jurisdictional stability. Darin Feinstein, Core Scientific’s co-founder, said, “You also want to ensure that there are private property rights protections on the assets you are moving.”
America’s rise is not just a matter of luck, but also of preparation. For years, the U.S. quietly increased its hosting capacity.
Companies across the country gambled that if the infrastructure was in place, bitcoin miners would eventually set up shop in America before they started to arrive.
This gamble pays off.
There wasn’t much demand to build large bitcoin farms after bitcoin crashed in 2017. The U.S. mining companies saw the opportunity and took advantage of the low-cost money to grow the US mining industry.
Mike Colyer, CEO, Foundry digital currency company, said that ‘the large, publicly traded miners were in a position to raise capital to make large purchases.’ Foundry helped bring more than $300 million worth of mining equipment to North America.
Feinstein claims that the US has seen a significant increase in mining infrastructure over the past 18 months. Feinstein said that there has been a significant increase in American mining operations looking to move to North America. This was mainly in the U.S.
Colyer says that Core Scientific, a North American crypto mining company, built out hosting space throughout the crypto winter in order to have the ability to plug into new gear.
He stated that the majority of new equipment produced between May 2020 and December 2020 was shipped to Canada and the U.S.
Alex Brammer, of Luxor Mining is a cryptocurrency pool for advanced miners. Brammer points out that the maturing capital markets around the mining industry and financial instruments also played a major role in the rapid ascent of the U.S. industry. Brammer claims many of these American operators were able quickly expand their operations once they obtained financing through leveraging a multiyear track record of profitability as well as existing capital as collateral.
Covid played an important role.
Although the global pandemic caused large economic disruptions, the stimulus payments that followed proved to be a boon to U.S. mining businesses.
Brandon Arvanaghi, a bitcoin mining engineer, explained that all the money printed during the pandemic meant more capital had to be deployed.
“People were searching for safe places to store their money. There was never been a greater demand for large-scale investments. Arvanaghi said that a lot of this money likely made its way to bitcoin mining operations outside of China.
However, not all miners are heading to renewable destinations.
With 18.1% of all cryptocurrency mining, Kazakhstan is second to the U.S. It is home to many coal mines, which provide cheap and plentiful energy but also produce a lot of carbon dioxide.
CNBC has heard from several experts that Kazakhstan is a temporary stopover for a longer migration west.
Brammer believes that large miners will be going there with older-generation equipment in the near-term. He said that as older-generation machines end their service life, companies will likely move to more stable, energy efficient, and renewable locations.
A new law signed by President will put a damper in Kazakhstan’s popularity. It will add additional taxes to crypto miners beginning in 2022.
Brammer stated that this will dramatically change the incentive for Kazakhstanis to invest capital.