- West Midlands Police discovers a Bitcoin mining facility initially thought to be a cannabis farm.
- Electricity worth thousands of pounds had been stolen to power the mine after bypassing the electric supply.
On 18 May 2021, the West Midlands police in the UK ended up in a Bitcoin mining facility in an operation meant to raid a cannabis farm.
Prior to the operation, police observed the frequent visits by a large number of people to the industrial unit located on the outskirts of Birmingham. According to a report, a police drone recorded significant heat coming from the suspected building with a lot of wiring and ventilation ducts. Also, it was observed that people enter the location at different times of the day. This, they believed, was a sign of a cannabis farm.
The police broke into the building and to their utmost surprise, it was a Bitcoin mine with over 100 computers in operation. Jennifer Griffin, a Sandwell police sergeant, admitted that their discovery was certainly not what they were expecting.
It had all the hallmarks of a cannabis cultivation set-up and I believe it’s only the second such crypto mine we’ve encountered in the West Midlands.
Bitcoin mining is not illegal though
Authorities made inquiries with the electricity supplier, Western Power. According to the feedback, electricity worth thousands of pounds had been stolen to power the mine after bypassing the electric supply. The police seized IT equipment to keep them permanently under the Proceeds of Crime Act. However, no arrest has been made.
The official statement reveals that no one was found at the unit at the time of the warrant. Authorities have assured the public that they’ll follow up on the case to make inquiries with the owner of the unit. Griffin stated that their problem is not with the Bitcoin mining, but the illegal abstraction of electricity.
My understanding is that mining for cryptocurrency is not itself illegal but abstracting electricity from the mains supply to power it is.
Many concerns have already been raised about the energy consumption of Bitcoin mining. On 18 May 2021, the annual energy consumption of the Bitcoin network was estimated to be 129 terawatt-hours (TWh) which was higher than Norway (124 TWh), Bangladesh (70 TWh), and Google and Facebook combined.
One Bitcoin transaction produces as much CO2 as burning 102 kg (220lbs) of jetfuel.
For comparison: One standard barrel is 119kg. pic.twitter.com/bvhMXqQm05
— Maximilian von Gaisberg (@vongaisberg) May 29, 2021
According to Cambridge University, hydroelectric power accounts for 60 percent of the energy sources for crypto mining in Europe, 65 percent in Asia, 67 percent in Latin America and the Caribbean, and 61 percent in North America.
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