Chinese Hydropower Plants Go On Sale Amid Bitcoin Mining Crackdown

By Scott Chipolina

Following China’s crackdown on Bitcoin mining, demand for cheap energy has plummeted—and the owners of small hydropower plants are putting their hardware up for sale.

Advertisements for small hydropower plants on e-commerce site Xianyu have increased since the start of the crackdown in May, while prices for the hardware have dropped, according to a report in the South China Morning Post.

One seller told a reporter for the publication that, “You can secretly mine cryptocurrency if you buy a hydropower station,” while three other sellers confirmed that more power stations are on the market ever since the government cracked down on mining. These hydropower plants tend to operate with a capacity of up to 50 megawatts, and are thus considered “small.”

China’s ban on Bitcoin mining

China is piling pressure on the Bitcoin mining industry as it attempts to launch its own central bank digital currency and meet ambitious climate goals.

Bitcoin mining’s energy consumption and environmental impact has been in the spotlight in recent months, with data from Cambridge University indicating that the Bitcoin network’s carbon footprint has previously reached heights equivalent to 61 billion pounds of burned coal.

The Hard Truth About Bitcoin’s Energy Consumption

Earlier this year, floods at a coal mine in Xinjiang caused the Bitcoin network’s hash rate to plummet, highlighting Chinese miners’ reliance on fossil fuels. Since then, Chinese provinces including Xinjiang, Sichuan, and Yunnan have banned crypto mining, with miners relocating overseas.

Of course, hydropower plants are a form of renewable energy, and do not carry a big carbon footprint—but it seems they’ve been caught up in China’s sweeping Bitcoin mining ban.

One of the sellers suggested that hydropower stations have turned to crypto mining because they have not received permission from the government to connect to the national power grid—this, in turn, can provide miners with an option to continue activity despite the government’s ban.