Australia to get solar-powered coal-using bitcoin farm
A bitcoin mining farm plans to use a combination of solar and coal power in an effort to satisfy everyone.
A company called DC Two has announced its plan to build "the first behind the grid data centre in Australia powered primarily from renewable energy sources." The data centre in question will be a bitcoin mining farm, according to current plans. It's due to be built in the coal mining town of Collie, about 200km south of Perth, next to a 20MW solar plant.
The goal, says DC Two, is to provide "globally competitive power to our customers whilst adding much needed local demand for base load power for the existing coal mines and power generators in the region."
In other words, the plan is for the mining farm to deliberately live off a combination of solar and coal power from behind the grid. It might be seen as an acceptable compromise, adding some solar power to satisfy public appearances while consuming coal power as a handout to the flagging coal mining industry and a way to smooth its arrival in the local community.
"All the coal mines are struggling to survive, and here we have a company going to put power into the grid using solar panels, hence threatening our mines and their production," lamented one Collie couple.
Proposals to reboot a Hunter Valley coal power plant to mine bitcoin were met with a lot of disapproval, even though it also introduced solar power elements alongside it, so emphasising the solar elements might be much more palatable.
But so far, coal might be Australia's only real way of breaking into the bitcoin mining scene. Miners have tended to flock to countries with cheap energy and cold weather, being especially fond of hydroelectric and geothermal, and Australia is overall far from perfect.
The first stages of the solar farm and data centre, drawing a power supply of up to four megawatts, are scheduled to come online early next year. And once complete, it intends to feature around 256 racks each capable of up to 30kw of IT load.
"In complete crypto mining configuration, using the initial 4MW power availability, the data centre could mine about 650 bitcoins per annum worth around $6 million based on current mining and exchange rates," DC Two said in a statement.
Those numbers are very much subject to change though. That "around $6 million" per year is down to about AUD$5.5 million per year today following the recent price drops, and it's impossible to predict how much hashing power the plant is going to be walking into by early next year. Unless bitcoin prices rise, those numbers are likely going to need to be revised downwards.
Still, it's perhaps not quite as fraught as Morocco's plans for a wind-powered mining farm.
Disclosure: At the time of writing, the author holds ETH, IOTA, ICX, VET, XLM, BTC and ADA.