Bitcoin Miner Caught Stealing US$280,000 in Electricity for 223 Computers
The Metropolitan Electricity Authority has reported that a Bitcoin miner using 223 computers stole approximately Bt10 million (US$280,700) in electricity over a one-year period. The MEA has filed a police complaint in Bangkok against the tenant of five shophouses on the charge of stealing electricity.
The theft was discovered following a late-night raid in the Tha Kham area of Bang Khunthian district by officials from the MEA’s Bang Khunthian office and Metropolitan Police Division 9.
According to Saniwat Woradithee, assistant director of the Bang Khunthian MEA office, the shophouses were fully wired with no meters installed to run 223 bitcoin mining computers.
The theft, which is thought to have lasted a year, is estimated to have cost 10 million baht. He stated that the shophouses were occupied by a single renter.
Bitcoin Miners Steal US$14.3 Million In Electricity
On December 2nd, Thailand’s Department of Special Investigation (DSI) raided 50 locations in central Thailand and discovered that Bitcoin miners had stolen around Bt500 million (US$14.3million) in electricity over the previous year.
Dr. Traiyarit Temahiwong, DSI chief, led officials from Thailand’s Central Institute of Forensic Science, Customs House, the Metropolitan Electricity Authority, and the Provincial Electricity Authority on raids in 39 Nonthaburi and two Bangkok locations where electricity was suspected of being stolen.
They searched three buildings in Nonthaburi’s tambon Ta Sai and discovered several computers used for Bitcoin mining. MEA officials discovered power cables hidden in the ceiling that were wired directly to the main electrical circuit bypassing the MEA-registered transformers.
Each building had over 30 computers used for Bitcoin mining, that should have cost in excess of 10,000 baht per month in electricity bills. However, they only payed 300 baht per month.
Mr. Traiyarit estimated the stolen electricity was in excess of Bt500 million (US$14.3million).
“Our preliminary investigation revealed that the owner of these buildings is a Thai national. We will proceed with the prosecution even if we discover that the network is linked to foreign investors or Thai government officials, “Mr. Traiyarit added.
He stated that officials would file complaints about the stolen electricity.
Bitcoin Miners and Electricity Use
When the mysterious Satoshi Nakamoto created the world’s first cryptocurrency in 2009, the intention was to build a decentralized digital payments platform that was to revolutionize how we buy and sell everything.
According to Nakamoto’s founding white paper, the goal of Bitcoin was to enable quick, borderless transactions.
After more than a decade, it’s undeniable that Bitcoin has gone mainstream, though perhaps not in the way Nakamoto anticipated.
Rather than facilitating everyday transactions, cryptocurrencies have largely evolved into speculative assets akin to digital gold, attracting investors who believe they will be able to resell their holdings for large profits in the future.
There is a catch to the digital gold rush: massive electricity consumption.
Bitcoin is estimated to consume 127 terawatt-hours of electricity per year (TWh). This usage exceeds Norway’s entire annual electricity consumption. Bitcoin miners consume 707 kWh of electricity per transaction, 11 times that of Ethereum.
Bitcoin is not the only cryptocurrency with a high environmental impact, but its popularity and inefficient consensus mechanism make it an easy scapegoat.
According to the Digiconomist Bitcoin Energy Consumption Index, mining a single bitcoin consumes approximately 1,449 kilowatt hours (kWh). That is the same amount of energy that the average US household consumes in about 13 years.