After the “license plate crisis”, the tension between Kosovo and Serbia rises again this time caused by the energy crisis and the mining of cryptocurrencies. Kosovo Police has requisitioned 272 equipment intended for cryptocurrency mining whose energy consumption is very high and has become popular among the northern Serbian population who do not recognize the Kosovar state or pay for electricity.
The Kosovo government has banned the production of cryptocurrencies as a solution to the energy crisis that the country has suffered since December. According to EFE, it is estimated that some 10,000 people or operators in Kosovo work with cryptocurrencies, although the numbers are not precise nor is there exact data of the transactions.
As a consequence of the high consumption of electricity that this financial and computer activity supposes, the authorities have decided to identify those places where Bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies are being mined to reduce energy consumption until the crisis is solved.
The country has been hit by several breakdowns at outdated Kosovar power plants, and prices for importing electricity are very high. This has resulted in very high prices for consumers and a supply that cannot cope with the high demand. In addition to the use of electric stoves in winter, which is very popular in the country, mining has become more popular as a mechanism to earn money faster.
Among the arrests made, the police requisitioned a driver’s team carrying 6 mining machines with 42 graphics cards. The Minister of Economy, Artane Rizvanolli, stated on Twitter that “tens of thousands of euros a month from taxpayers are saved to supply energy for hundreds of Kosovar families during the crisis “with this measure.
Tens of thousands of Euros per month of taxpayers saved = energy for hundreds of Kosovar families during the crisis.
Thank you @Kosovo_Police and Kosovo Customs #KosovoCustoms. https://t.co/byb4GzOfHR
— Artane Rizvanolli (@Artane_R) January 8, 2022
Young people facing an unemployment rate of 26% are very receptive to this new form of business. Also the Serbian population, the majority in the north of Kosovo, is embracing digital currency mining. This means more tension between Kosovo and Serbia, since Serbs living in that area They do not recognize the authority of the Pristina government and refuse to pay for the electricity they consume.
Since the independence of the Balkan country from Serbia in 2008, these subsidies have been maintained, but in late 2021, the power grid operator KOSTT announced that would stop supplying free energy to the four northern municipalities of the country where the majority Serbs live. This measure and others have been creating tension between the two countries for years and require the intervention of the European Union and NATO to reduce hostility.
The cost of mining
To be able to extract cryptocurrencies, powerful computer equipment is required to carry out complex processes, which translates into high electricity costs. For this reason, this activity is considered as dangerous for the environment, a report from Trinity College Dublin indicates that bitcoin alone consumes as much electricity as a medium-sized European country.
In addition, the growing popularity of this type of computer mining has increased the shortage of chips that is affecting the technology industry, increasing the prices of mobile phones and other products. However, most of the countries that have tightened their anti-mining measures in the last year have done so for another reason, China, for example, alludes to the risks it entails for national stability and its speculation.
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Hundreds of bitcoin mining machines confiscated due to their high electricity consumption