By Mohamed Abaid, Independent Libyan Analyst


Bitcoin, as a form of cryptocurrency, operates on a decentralized network and is not controlled by any government or financial institution. It relies on a process called mining, which involves solving complex mathematical problems using high-powered computers. The mining process is highly energy-intensive, consuming a significant amount of electricity.

Global Energy Consumption of Bitcoin Mining

As of May 2021, Bitcoin mining was estimated to consume 142.59 terawatt-hours (TWh) annually, equivalent to 0.57% of global electricity production. To put this into perspective, mining a single Bitcoin can consume as much electricity as a typical U.S. household uses in a year.

Bitcoin Mining in Libya

Despite being officially illegal, Bitcoin mining has surged in Libya, partly due to the country's low electricity costs. In 2021, Libyans mined approximately 0.6% of all Bitcoins globally, which was the highest in the Arab world and Africa. This level of mining consumed about 2% of Libya's total electricity output, or approximately 0.855 TWh annually.

Impact on Libya's Power Grid

Bitcoin mining significantly strained Libya’s electricity grid. Before 2022, Libya faced severe electricity shortages, with blackouts lasting up to 18 hours during peak times. The government attributed these shortages partly to the energy-intensive nature of Bitcoin mining.

Ingenious Methods of Concealment

Some Bitcoin miners in Libya have been using inventive methods to hide their operations. One such method involves using materials like cement to conceal the heat signatures produced by the mining equipment. This makes it challenging for authorities to detect these operations based on electricity consumption and heat emissions.

Recent Improvements and Future Challenges

As of 2023, Libya's electricity sector has seen significant improvements under the leadership of Mohamed Elmeshai, the Chairman of the General Electricity Company of Libya. Power outages have become non-existent in Libya in 2023 due to various overhauls of power stations.

However, the continued presence of illegal Bitcoin mining poses a threat to these improvements. Here are some updated recommendations to combat this issue:

Enhanced Monitoring and Detection: Develop sophisticated methods for detecting abnormal electricity consumption patterns and heat signatures, even when concealed. This can include the use of advanced thermal imaging and AI-based systems for pattern recognition.

Public Awareness and Whistleblowing: Continue to raise public awareness about the detrimental effects of illegal mining on the national power grid and encourage the public to report suspected operations.

International Collaboration: Cooperate with international partners and agencies to share intelligence and best practices on detecting and preventing illicit cryptocurrency activities.

Renewable Energy and Legal Frameworks: For those who are engaged or interested in Bitcoin mining, setting up legal frameworks that encourage the use of renewable energy sources can alleviate pressure on the national grid.

Strict Enforcement and Penalties: Implement stricter penalties and ensure rigorous enforcement of laws against illegal Bitcoin mining.


Illegal Bitcoin mining continues to pose a challenge to Libya's power grid. The ingenious methods used by miners to conceal their operations necessitate advanced detection mechanisms. By focusing on enhanced monitoring, public awareness, international collaboration, renewable energy sources, and strict law enforcement, Libya can safeguard the reliability and sustainability of its power grid against the pressure exerted by Bitcoin mining. This will require a collective effort from the government, law enforcement agencies, the electricity sector, and the general public.


Disclaimer:  The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect those of the Libya Observer