These difficulty adjustments came after the exploding hashrate increase. Many have speculated about who’s been turning on new miners lately. Theories have ranged from public miners in the US finally getting more miners online to Russia leveraging its stranded gas after the Nord Stream 2 pipeline got damaged recently, blocking gas delivery to Europe.
We see the planned expansions from public miners as the most likely reason behind the hashrate increase, in addition to unused space in data centers being filled up by Bitcoin miners after Ethereum miners unplugged, as they became redundant after the Ethereum merge.We’ve seen discussions about Russia and stranded gas, but these are very unlikely - at least on a large scale. Russia’s revenue from gas export to the EU exceeded several hundred million dollars per day in 2021. As seen from the table, Russia could get a daily revenue of less than $20 million if they had all the mining machines in the world. In addition, it would take time for Russia to get hold of new miners and the investment cost is also significant. We do not see any reason why Russia, on a national level, would even think about bitcoin mining at this time and find the theory unlikely. What could be a more probable theory is some profit-seeking local gas operators in Russia plugging in more machines, but this would not explain the recent hashrate increase as it would only slightly impact the total.