An Australian coal-fired power plant in Hunter Valley, New South Wales is to be repurposed to provide cheap electricity to blockchain companies in the region.
Named the IOT Blockchain Application Centre (BAC), the plant will be maintained by technology firm IOT Group in partnership with renewable energy-focused utility company Hunter Energy. They aim to restart plant operations next year.
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.”
This will be Hunter’s first venture into energy production. As part of its clean energy focus, Hunter plans to introduce several measures to reduce emissions from the power plant, including the use of waste wood in the fuel mix after completing the necessary feasibility study.
The company also said it would tap the potential of solar energy, adding that an appropriate study has been completed for a nearby grid-scale solar facility.
In its mission statement, Hunter said it aimed to "develop a model at the heart [of] the energy transition from coal, to a reduced emission environment while maintaining the system reliability needed.”
Energy requirements of blockchain
Blockchain, particularly cryptocurrency mining, requires a significant amount of energy.
Halfway across the globe, Bitcoin mining operations in Iceland are creating a dilemma for the country as energy producers struggle to provide power to homes and the booming number of data centers.
Johann Snorri Sigurbergsson, director of business development at Icelandic energy producer HS Orka, recently noted:
“What we're seeing now is... you can almost call it exponential growth, I think, in the [energy] consumption of data centers.”
He added that the energy requirements of cryptocurrency mining centers might even exceed that from homes.
In New York State, the small town of Plattsburgh recently imposed an 18-month moratorium on cryptocurrency mining to allow it “the opportunity to consider zoning and land use laws and municipal lighting department regulations before commercial cryptocurrency mining operations result in an irreversible change to the character and direction of the City."