At the end of June, the State Police announced that in an operation conducted in the district of Fier, several citizens were prosecuted who, in cooperation with each other, are suspected of having carried out actions aimed at setting up a structure for the production of cryptocurrencies, “Computer fraud”, “Concealment of income” and “Theft of electricity”.
In fact, the law in Albania does not prohibit the production of cryptocurrencies. Leaders of the Financial Supervision Authority (FSA) have made it clear that the 2020 law “On financial markets based on distributed registry technology” regulates only entities that provide services related to the trading of cryptocurrencies, but not their production (mining). Although production itself is not a crime, related activities, such as equipment smuggling, tax evasion and especially electricity theft are gaining momentum and according to experts in the field the cases discovered so far are just the tip of the iceberg. .
According to information technology experts who are often contacted by individuals or groups that have such purposes, it is thought that the main base where the production of cryptocurrencies through the theft of electricity is the region of Durres. The groups that exercise this activity generally use connections and bribes to individuals in power in the respective areas, sometimes even employees or managers of the Universal Electricity Service Provider.
Besmir Semanaj, electronic engineer and information security expert says that currently in Albania are connected several thousand devices for the production of cryptocurrencies.
“In Albania, the production of cryptocurrencies would not be a profitable activity, because the energy consumed by the production has a very high cost. In Albania today there are many people who do cryptocurrency mining, but unfortunately most of them do not pay for electricity and receive it illegally. There are people, even companies I know, who, using their knowledge, receive electricity from the distribution system without paying for it, “says Mr. Semanaj.
According to him, based on information on the large number of entities that are increasingly engaged in the production of cryptocurrencies, network losses could increase significantly in the coming years.
According to data from Instat, for the first quarter of 2021 losses in the electricity distribution network amounted to 23.6% of total energy consumed, from about 19.2% that was this indicator for 2020. In particular, non-technical losses amounted to 8.3%, from 6.9% last year. In the absence of analysis regarding the increase in the level of losses in the network, it can be hypothesized that the production of cryptocurrencies may have become a factor.
The use of electricity to produce cryptocurrencies has become a major economic and environmental concern today because the energy used to produce them today is greater than the amount of energy that individual states of the world can consume. According to a study by the Cambridge Center for Alternative Finance, Bitcoin consumes about 110 terawatts of energy per year. This amount is equal to about 0.55% of the annual global production is equal to the total energy consumption of countries like Sweden or Malaysia. If Bitcoin consumption were to be included in the ranking of energy consumed by states, it would be ranked 29th out of 196 countries in the world.