In the early days of crypto, mining was a boon for small-time entrepreneurs – but soon the mining business became increasingly competitive, as miners purchased massively powerful computers while scaling up their operations to remain profitable.
Risks seemed low, as the original Bitcoin software was supposed to account for falling prices, making it easier to mine as the number of miners remaining in the game dropped, thus ensuring that there would always be enough miners to process all the transactions.
Then the Bitcoin crash came, severely limiting the ability for miners to churn out crypto while still making a profit. As it turns out, inefficiencies in the mining algorithm, combined with market pressure on the transaction fees that were supposed to partially compensate miners, has led to a squeeze on the ability for anyone to mine at a profit.
In Washington State, hydroelectric power generates far more juice than locals can consume, thus attracting a booming business in crypto mining. “The region’s five huge hydroelectric dams, all owned by public utility districts, generate nearly six times as much power as the region’s residents and businesses can use,” explains Politico journalist Paul Roberts. “Most of the surplus is exported, at high prices, to markets like Seattle or Los Angeles, which allows the utilities to sell power locally at well below its cost of production.”
By 2015, however, the Washington Bitcoin mining craze had run its course. “Margins grew so thin—and, in fact, occasionally went negative—that miners had to spend their coins as soon as they mined them to pay their power bills,” Roberts adds.
If not Washington, then, what about Iran? “I come across some very interesting cases,” notes Mohsen Rajabi, an Iranian blockchain entrepreneur. “I recently set up a rig for a middle-aged customer who was not tech-savvy at all and had simply heard of mining and its potential profits. He wanted to start with ten devices installed at his factory because it can legally use extremely cheap industrial electricity.
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