Police in the United Kingdom had been searching for a cannabis farm, but they stumbled on an illegal bitcoin mine instead. Located on the outskirts of Birmingham, an English city, the mine is in an industrial unit and had been stealing electricity that was worth thousands of pounds from the mains supply. The West Midlands Police said that they had searched the unit on the back of intelligence on May 18th and they believed that it was being used as a cannabis farm. They disclosed that at different times during the day, a number of people had visited the unit.
They also said that numerous ventilation ducts and wiring were also visible and a lot of heat had also been detected coming from the building by a police drone. As per police, all of these were ‘classic signs’ that pointed to the existence of a cannabis farm. However, when police entered the building, they found zero cannabis and a bank of 100 computers in its place. The Sandwell police sergeant, Jennifer Griffin said that it definitely wasn’t what they had been expecting. She said that the place had all the hallmarks of a setup for cannabis cultivation. She added that it was the second crypto mine they had come across in the West Midlands.
Purpose-built computers are used by Bitcoin miners for solving complex mathematical equations that effectively allow a Bitcoin transaction to be conducted. The miners receive the digital currency as a reward for their efforts. However, computers use a huge amount of power, which makes the process very energy-intensive. The carbon footprint of Bitcoin is comparable with that of the entire country of New Zealand, as it produces 36.95 megatons of carbon dioxide annually. Griffin said that while mining for cryptocurrency wasn’t completely illegal in itself, but powering the process by using the mains supply for abstracting electricity is.
While the police have seized all the computer equipment, they haven’t made any arrests as yet. A ban was announced by the Iranian government on the mining of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies on Wednesday. This was because the country’s officials blame the energy-intensive process for causing a number of blackouts in numerous Iranian cities. Between January and April of 2021, almost 4.5% of global Bitcoin mining had occurred in Iran. This data was provided by Elliptic, a blockchain analytics firm.
This put the country amongst the top 10 globally, whereas China took the first position by contributing almost 70% to the world’s supply. The Inner Mongolia region in China plans on banning any new crypto mining projects and will also shut down any existing activity because they want to cut down on the operation that’s consuming a massive amount of the country’s energy. Recently, the high energy consumption of Bitcoin mining has become a controversial topic, with Tesla’s CEO, Elon Musk announcing that the company will not accept payment in Bitcoin because of the harmful effects it has on the environment. This has pushed many other companies to do the same.