Chinese Bitcoin Miner Jailed for Stealing Train Network’s Power

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Bitcoin mining was once a very niche activity, with it largely being performed by crypto hobbyists around the globe. However, with the rise in prevalence of Bitcoin – and other cryptos for that matter – large firms have taken up crypto mining. This has led to higher electricity rates for crypto miners and the development of application specific integrated circuit (ASIC) chips. These new chips outperform any graphic processing unit (GPU) crypto mining rig and are partly the reason behind hobbyist miners vanishing. Despite this, many hobbyist miners are still trying to mine Bitcoin, and one miner has taken things to the extreme. Higher power costs have forced one miner to steal power from the train infrastructure in China – talk about trying to cut costs!

Stealing Power

The Chinese crypto miner allegedly mined cryptos between November 2017 and December 2017. He netted a total of 3.2 BTC, which at its peak were worth around $65,000 – not a bad haul. Unfortunately, he decided to power his 50 mining rigs with power he stole from the local train network. Courts in China have estimated that he stole around $15,000 worth of power from the train company, and back in April when his BTC was confiscated it was worth around $19,200. This means that even if he had paid for the electricity he still would have netted a tidy profit – why steal in the first place?

Crypto Mining Rigs Becoming More Power Efficient

This high-power cost is the sole reason many miners are shutting up shop or simply not getting into the industry. Without cheap power supplies, miners are often running at a loss. This has forced ASIC manufacturers to create a new generation of power efficient crypto mining rigs. Bitfury just launched its new Bitfury Clarke ASIC mining chip that boasts to be the most power efficient ASIC based on its hash rate output. New, ultra-powerful kit like Bitfury Clarke is helping miners keep running even with higher power costs and falling BTC prices.

Next Stop, Iceland

Iceland has been a favored destination for crypto miners thanks to its arctic temperatures and abundance of cheap power. It is estimated that 98% of all power the country generates is used for crypto mining, but don’t worry, as it’s all clean renewable energy. Iceland is lucky enough to get most of its power from geothermal activity. This geothermal activity is then captured and turned into geothermal power, which is nearly infinite and can therefore sustain the crypto mining world. It’s nearly twice as cost-effective to mine in Iceland than any other European nation – pack your bags, next stop Iceland.

The Quest for Cheap Mining

Just as it was for our Chinese crypto miner, the quest for cheap electricity is vital in keeping a mining business going, Companies from around the globe are experimenting with new methods to reduce power costs. Out in a desert in Texas, TMGcore has decided to submerge its ASIC chips in 3M Novec in a bid to keep them cool. This fluid is then captured as it becomes a gas, is cooled down then pumped back into giant baths that hold the ASIC chips. This technique allows TMGcore to save as much as 90% on their power bills thanks to the low cooling costs.
Our plucky Chinese crypto miner has been sentenced to three and a half years in jail, as well as lumping him with a $14,500 fine and ordering him to repay the $15,000 worth of power he stole. As an additional kick in the teeth, his crypto mining hardware was also confiscated. This should be a stark warning to everyone who is considering doing something similar – just pay for your power and you will avoid hefty fines.