Australian coal-fired power plant being recommissioned to mine blockchains

Hunter Energy
Promo image A piece of a power plant from Hunter Energy

It will probably generate 22,000 pounds of CO2 every hour, but everybody needs their bitcoins!

It takes a lot of energy to "mine" bitcoins; as we noted earlier, computers have to run "proof of work algorithms." Bitcoins alone are estimated to consume 32 terawatt-hours of electricity per year, about as much as all of Denmark uses. And there are other Blockchain operations that also suck a lot of power.

IOT groupIOT Group/Screen capture

So while the President of the United States couldn't make coal great again, it appears that Bitcoin can. The IOT group, an Australian company that also makes a shopping app and a drone that takes flying selfies, has made a deal with Hunter Energy to re-open the mothballed Redbank coal-fired power plant in New South Wales, Australia. They claim that this will "provide direct access to power at cost and without the additional charges and costs associated with transmission, of power including; grid costs, poles and wires, electricity retailer margins to supply to the end user."

Solar panelsPretty solar panels from Hunter Energy/Promo image

On its website, Hunter Energy shows lots of solar panels and claims that it "is developing a model at the heart the energy transition from coal, to a reduced emission environment whilst maintaining the system reliability needed." They are even tossing biomass, waste wood products, into the fire. But call it what you will, it's a coal fired power plant in the middle of the Hunter Valley coal mining region.

IOT Group executive director Sean Neylon told the Age:

The reasons why blockchain specialists are not in Australia is because power costs are too high, it’s not efficient. Power at wholesale cost would make blockchain related operations attractive in Australia.

Other Bitcoin miners have moved to places with cheap hydro power like Iceland or Manitoba, but Australia can't seem to dig or burn enough coal, and is still investing in new mines. This poster is a bit old (Tony Abbott is no longer Prime Minister) but I do not believe that much else has changed.

And now it is on the coal-fired Bitcoin bandwagon. The Age says that "the blockchain centre could consume between 10 and 20 megawatts of electricity" which produces about 22,000 pounds of CO2 per hour. But hey, everybody needs their bitcoins!

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