In Siberia, cheap hydropower, cold climate, and abandoned Soviet industrial infrastructure has made the region of Irkutsk an attractive spot for urban explorers and, more importantly, crypto miners.
In the city of Bratsk lies one of the largest hydropower plants in Russia. The massive dam and generator feeds the region's growing mining farms. Cheap electricity is actively attracting miners from all parts of the world, turning the region into an international mining hub.
In addition to the cheap electricity, the local climate is favorable to miners: the average annual temperature in Bratsk is 28 degrees Celsius or 82.4 ℉. The warm season (meaning when it’s not freezing) lasts four or five months a year and the rest of the time it's a deep freeze.
Another advantage is the plethora of empty buildings left by the Soviet factories that didn't survive Russia's turn to a market economy.
Now some of those buildings, with the electricity already plugged in, have made the leap from the industrial to post-industrial age, becoming homes for mining hardware. In these remote areas, the miners can gobble up hydropower without disturbing the neighbors.
Three companies, Bitriver, Cryptoreactor, and Minery, are the biggest players here offering "mining hotels," or venues to place ASICs equipped the cooling systems, tech support teams and security guards.
Bitriver boasts 100 megawatt of power available for clients while Cryptoreactor said it had secured 40 megawatts and Minery claims 30 megawatt. The venues are currently hosting machines from the clients in the U.S., Russia, Japan, Korea, Brazil, Lithuania, India, Poland, Spain, China, and other countries.
At one of Minery's two farms, for example, 26 massive shipping containers host ASICs owned by the miners from the U.S., Russia, Korea, India, Japan and Spain, the firm's CEO Ilya Bruman said.
Dmitry Ozersky, CEO of Eletro.Farm, a mining company building a large venue in Kazakhstan, believes bitcoin mining farms across Russia now wield a joint capacity of 600 megawatts, accounting for almost 10 percent of the total 7 gigawatts of power supporting the bitcoin network worldwide.
We went on location to see the mines in action and came home with some amazing footage.
Image via CoinDesk Video.
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