Bitcoin miners could push Kazakhstan towards nuclear power despite its difficult history

  • The President of Kazakhstan is a supporter of Nuclear power, but the country has a legacy of disasters caused by nuclear tests.
  • The country’s share in the world crypto mining hash rates have quadrupled over the past year.
  • A shortage of energy ensued in Kazakhstan long before the miners entered the fray to compound the emerging problem.

China has shunned Bitcoin miners, forcing them to relocate to other countries, such as neighbor Kazakhstan. But wherever miners go, they take their enormous electricity needs with them. This is why the former state of the Soviet Union is now turning to nuclear power to meet its needs, despite its torrential history with the resource.

The country is betting on crypto mining to boost its economy – a boost of $ 1.5 billion over the next five years, according to the country’s Data Center Industry and Blockchain Association (NABDC). And, data compiled by the University of Cambridge shows that Kazakhstan’s share in the mining hash rate has quadrupled in the past year, making it the second largest mining center in the world after the United States.

This includes the 87,849 mining machines of Chinese companies that changed bases after the crackdown according to the Financial Times. However, the sudden boom led to a shortage of domestic electricity supply in the country. President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev believes nuclear power could be the inevitable solution to the problem.

At a meeting on November 19, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, the country’s president, told bankers that a nuclear power plant could help mitigate the impact on the country’s power grids.

Looking to the future, we will have to make an unpopular decision regarding the construction of a nuclear power plant.

President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev told bankers at a meeting in the country’s largest city Atla on Friday

Kazakhstan’s plan to reintroduce nuclear power may worry some

Despite the economic potential, Tokayev’s decision to try nuclear power would be baffling for many citizens. After all, Kazakhstan has a history of problems with nuclear energy.

The problems date back to August 1949, when an explosion at the Russian nuclear test site in Semipalatinsk rocked the country. This nuclear test released 22 kilotons of TNT into the atmosphere and was the first of 456 nuclear explosions of this type carried out in the country at that time.

The Semipalatinsk test site, also known as “the polygon”, was the main test site for nuclear weapons in the Soviet UnionCTBTO via Wikimedia Commons

History is obviously important as well, since 87% of Kazakhstan’s electricity is currently produced from fossil fuels, despite being one of the richest countries in terms of uranium deposits. Another 12% of the country’s electricity comes from hydropower, showing a general reluctance to turn to nuclear power. The country closed its only nuclear power plant in 1999.

“Kazakhstan has some of the largest deposits of uranium in the world and is the largest producer of uranium in the world. Although plans have long existed to build additional nuclear power plants, little progress has been made in building these units. Kazakhstan’s economy is very energy intensive and uses two to three times more energy than the average for OECD countries, ”said an article published last year by the International Trade Administration.

To be clear, Tokayev himself has been a proponent of moving forward with nuclear power. “I myself think it is time to seriously think about this issue, since Kazakhstan needs a nuclear power plant,” he said at a business forum in September.

In May, Taokyev said that “nuclear phobias are inappropriate” and that while the country will not rush to nuclear power, it should not be long either, as it will face an energy deficit by now. 2030. An entry from Bitcoin and other crypto miners may have brought this timeline even closer.

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