The influx of Bitcoin miners from China into Kazakhstan has exacerbated its energy shortage, which its president has advocated resolving with nuclear power.
Kazakhstan's Ministry of Energy blames Bitcoin miners for increasing 8% in domestic electricity use in 2021. According to data from the Financial Times, the country has acquired at least 87,849 Bitcoin mining devices from Chinese companies so far this year, after China's crackdown on crypto mining.
According to the Kazakhstan Electrical Grid Operating Company, the significant rise in demand has resulted in a domestic power supply shortage and contributed to inconsistent electricity supplies. At a bankers' meeting on Nov. 19, President Tokayev said he believes establishing a nuclear power plant will help relieve the strain on his country's electrical infrastructure: electricity.
Tokayev did not connect Bitcoin mining power usage in his proposal; failing to keep miners in the country might imperil the estimated $1.58 billion in tax income they generate. Xive, a Bitcoin mining marketplace, has previously left Kazakhstan due to power constraints. Didar Bekbau, the co-founder of Xive, tweeted on Nov. 25 that his company's mining farm had to be shut down owing to "limited electric availability from the grid."
Kazakhstan now has 50 crypto mining businesses registered and an unknown number unregistered.
In a country that endured severe nuclear fallout from weapons testing during the Soviet occupation, the decision to develop new nuclear power plants is a serious one. The last nuclear power station in Kazakhstan was shut down in 1999.
Currently, fossil fuel-burning power plants provide about 88 percent of Kazakhstan's electricity.