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Bitcoin Mining: Solution to 110 Billion KWH Curtailed Renewable Energy In China

As the authority is containing expansion and development of bitcoin mining facilities in China, some blockchain practitioners are advocating that an open and cautionary attitude should be taken on regulation mining facilities as they might be solution to the curtailed renewable energy in China. According to a report by Green Peace, vast amount of renewable energy have been curtailed in China since 2014.

According to a report by Green Peace

“In 2016, China’s wind curtailment rate – the amount of wind power that could have been generated and used but wasn’t – reached 17%, more than double what it was in 2014.”

What is curtailment?

Because renewables rely on the sun shining and the wind blowing, the amount of energy they can produce can varies — from very little to a whole lot.

But sometimes solar panels and wind turbines stop producing power even when they are able to produce more.

Surplus energy is lost — because either the grid isn’t equipped to handle it, there isn’t any way to store it or other types of energy like coal are given priority.”

Zhou Zhang, a seasoned blockchain practitioner, points out that the wasted renewable energy could amount to 110 billion kwh a year in China in a recent article he wrote for Tencent Finance. Therefore the crypto mining facilities scattered in China might provide a market-oriented solution to the wasted energy in China.

In the 2017 Conference for Economic Situation and Power Development Analysis and Forecast, the China Electricity Council (http://www.cec.org.cn/) said that 110 billion kwh from “water, wind and solar” were wasted in 2016 , compared with the annual output of 170 million kwh generated in Sanxia Power Plant.
Detail and regional distribution:

In 2016, 49.7 billion kwh wind power was wasted in 2016 nationwide, up 46.6% from 2015 and four times that of 2014. The phenomena happened in Xinjiang, Gansu, Inner Mongolia and 11 other regions, among which Shanxi emerged for the first time. The curtailment rate of Gansu soared from 11% in 2014 to 43.1% in 2016. Xinjiang, Jilin, Inner Mongolia, Heilongjiang were 38%, 30%, 21%, 18.7%.In 2016, the average curtailment rate of solar power in the western region reached 20%, among which Xinjiang had to curtail 32.23%. The first quarter of 2016, Gansu abandoned 39% of the solar power, taking the lead of curtailment rate in terms of wind power and solar power.
In terms of hydro power, 70 billion kwh were curtailed in Southwest China. Sichuan Province wasted 14.2 billion kwh, an increase of about 39%, the highest in nearly 5 years.These provinces are mostly located in the poor regions where power demand is relatively low. It is difficult to transport electricity from the west to the developed provinces in the east.
Sichuan province is best known to Chinese bitcoiners for its cheap hydro power rate. With the market-oriented mechanism, cryptocurrency mining facilities has naturally become the perfect match for “curtailed power”. The mining farm demands lots of power for computation but very little for other infrastructures other than miners. Crypto-assets could be exchanged into fiats at very little cost. Plus the enterprises create job opportunity for local community.

With necessary compliance with tax, business registration, power usage, the mining facilities could bring much needed solution to consume curtailed power locally. Otherwise the mining enterprises are forced to move to overseas market like Russia, Canada and Singapore. Bitmain has already announced such plan. The policymakers need to take less drastic measures to tame the dragon.

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