It is the first time in China that a province has announced an ambitious electric vehicle campaign, taking advantage of the additional power capacity made available by Beijing’s ban on Bitcoin mining.
Because of Beijing’s crackdown on energy-guzzling Bitcoin (BTC) mining, Guizhou province has become the country’s first to make use of its newly freed-up power capacity to advance a climate-conscious agenda, according to a report published by the World Resources Institute.
According to a recent announcement, the province’s hydroelectric-rich southern region intends to construct at least 4,500 electric vehicle (EV) charging stations by 2021. This will increase to 5,000 in 2022, and then to 5,500 the year after that.
Following Beijing’s pressure on Bitcoin miners, the South China Morning Post reports that over 50 terawatt-hours (TWh) of electricity has been freed up. This is sufficient electricity for 33 years to power an industrialised city with a population of 1 million people, as well as to meet the charging needs of 10 million Tesla Model 3s per year.
On the international stage, China has been a pioneer and a decisive force in the fight against cryptocurrency mining, forcing pools that had previously benefited from cheap, abundant power to close their doors and relocate overseas.
In Guizhou, the provincial government is using this surplus to encourage the region’s 38 million residents to change their lifestyles in order to comply with Beijing’s decarbonization commitments, a strategy that has proven successful.
Cao Hua, a partner at the private equity firm Unity Asset Management, told reporters that Guizhou’s EV plan is “a double dose of good news for China’s economy” because it is both environmentally friendly and economically beneficial.
“Cracking down on power-consuming Bitcoin mines and using the excess capacity to support development of the future of mobility is the best example of how China endeavours to reach its carbon neutrality goal.”
EV charging stations are to be installed in 38,000 locations by 2023 in Guizhou, which has one of the lowest per-capita income levels in the country. At least one charging station is to be installed in each town, and 20 percent of parking spaces at shopping malls are to be reserved for EV charging stations.
In interviews with the SCMP, both local residents and manufacturers expressed their expectation that provincial authorities will provide incentives and consumer discounts to encourage uptake.
One local EV battery supplier stated that the industry is already taking cues from the new agenda upstream in the manufacturing process. “We are considering to branch out to those areas because they may roll out more incentives to lure companies making products complying with their environmental policies,” he explained.
China has reportedly increased the number of public and privately owned EV charging stations by more than 47 percent in the last year, according to reports. Despite this, the vast majority of infrastructure continues to be concentrated in the most affluent cities and regions of the country.
A recent report by the SCMP asserted that the shift in capacity utilisation in former Bitcoin mining centres – including Qinghai, Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang, Yunnan, and Sichuan provinces – could be a “game-changer” for the country’s efforts to popularise electric vehicles.
Extension of electric vehicle charging stations to rural and underdeveloped areas is a significant challenge, but it is necessary to alleviate prospective electric vehicle drivers’ “range anxiety” – that is, the fear of reaching a dead end in terms of battery life – as they consider purchasing an electric vehicle.
It is therefore necessary for provincial governments, automobile manufacturers, and battery producers to work together to increase investment and production levels at a sufficient scale in order to make the transition to EVs.
According to current plans, Beijing is aiming for three out of every five vehicles in the country to be powered by renewable sources by 2030, as opposed to the United States’ goal of 50 percent by that time.
Aside from environmental concerns, several governments around the world have tightened their stance on Bitcoin mining this year, citing concerns about the impact it will have on local energy supplies.
Earlier this month, a former Kyrgyz government official claimed that cryptocurrency mining was a significant contributor to the country’s energy crisis. In an effort to conserve electricity during the summer months, licenced Iranian miners have been barred from operating in the country until the end of September.