Cambridge University Releases New Tool for Tracking Global Bitcoin Mining Power

Cambridge University's Centre for Alternative Finance has released a bitcoin mining map, showing where bitcoin miners are located worldwide.

May 7, 2020 at 6:00 a.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 8:37 a.m. UTC

A team affiliated with the University of Cambridge has released a new bitcoin data tool showing the countries with the highest concentration of mining activity.

The Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance (CCAF), which is based at the Cambridge Judge Business School, said Wednesday the Bitcoin Mining Map would visualize countries' monthly share of global hashrate for the very first time, as well as provide more in-depth data for comparing Chinese provinces.

On a global scale, the map shows China making up 65% of total global hashrate, with the U.S. and Russia back on 7%. While China is still way out in front, its share of the hashrate has dropped roughly 10% since September.

The data comes three mining pools – BTC.com, Poolin, and ViaBTC – and took seven months to develop. Blandin said it represented roughly 37% of total global hashrate and might skew too far against North America and Europe. They are hoping to plug in data from more mining pools and entities to create a more comprehensive picture.

"This data may validate some market intuitions, drive greater transparency, and help participants in the conduct of their operations," said Apolline Blandin, CCAF's cryptocurrency and blockchain lead, to CoinDesk in an email. "From a research perspective, whether academic or industry research, this data can help better calibrate and adjust the parameters of researchers’ models."

Many miners use virtual private networks (VPNs) to mask IP addresses and can make locations harder to pin down. In the methodology page, CCAF said that they had noticed this was particularly prominent in Zhejiang province. "To mitigate this effect, we have divided the hashrate of Zhejiang province proportionally among other Chinese provinces listed in the pool’s dataset," it reads.

CCAF's mining map also shows Xinjiang as the Chinese province with the highest concentration of hashrate, conflicting with crypto asset manager CoinShares, which has placed the southern province Sichuan at the top in most of its bi-annual reports.

That may be because CCAF's dataset began in September 2019, at the start of Sichuan's dry season, when hydroelectric plants were running at lower capacities and aren't producing as much power. Blandin said the map may at least confirm some Chinese miners may actually migrate from Sichuan to Xinjiang after the rainy season.

Now that the wet season has begun, the disparity between CCAF and CoinShares data could well close.

EDIT (May 13. 09:25 UTC): A previous version of this article stated that data came from APIs and the mining map took around a year to develop. This has since been corrected.

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