Hunter Valley coal power plant getting rebooted to power blockchain

Posted: 10 April 2018 5:21 pm
shutterstock hunter valley kangaroos 450x250

A tech group wants to fire up the plant to power blockchain tech and create a Silicon Hunter Valley.

ASX-listed IOT Group has just inked a deal with Hunter Energy to use the Hunter Valley's old coal power plant, which was switched off in 2014. It's proposing to recommission it over the next 12 months and redevelop the Redbank site to establish Australia's first blockchain centre, SMH reports.

The plan aims to offer power "behind the grid" at wholesale prices of around 20% of consumer energy costs.

"Blockchain processes used a lot of computing power and energy," said IOT Group executive director Sean Neylon. "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."

Hunter Energy chief executive Jim Myatt, who also co-founded flat-rate electric company Mojo Power, said feasibility studies were currently underway and suggested that the generator could be fired up again around the start of 2019.

"NSW needs more baseload right now," he said. "We’re exploring battery and solar on the site as well as part of the transitional energy change."

The blockchain centre alone might consume 10 to 20 megawatts of electricity, while the Redbank power plant as it is can produce 150 megawatts.

Bitcoin is the world's best-known blockchain system, but quirks of its programming mean it's also notoriously energy inefficient to the extent that bitcoin "miners" who power the network often tread a fine line and risk operating at a loss when bitcoin prices dip. Typically, the relatively high energy prices in Australia mean it's almost impossible to profitably mine bitcoin Down Under.

Bitcoin isn't the only blockchain system though, and energy use isn't just for mining. The nature of blockchain, which is a permanent unbroken ledger of transactions, means data storage is also one of the chief concerns for any company that wants to get involved.

Data centres also need a lot of energy for the machines themselves as well as for the air conditioning to keep them from catching fire. Electricity prices are always a concern for a location-shopping tech company, but blockchain systems in particular push the issue to the front.

"With these current prices... having a blockchain application centre behind the grid offers cheaper power. It offers the potential to create a new Silicon Valley in Australia," Neylon said. "We're offering services so clients can build data centres where they can get cheaper power."

Disclosure: At the time of writing, the author holds ETH, IOTA, ICX, VEN, XLM, BTC and NANO.

Disclaimer: This information should not be interpreted as an endorsement of cryptocurrency or any specific provider, service or offering. It is not a recommendation to trade. Cryptocurrencies are speculative, complex and involve significant risks – they are highly volatile and sensitive to secondary activity. Performance is unpredictable and past performance is no guarantee of future performance. Consider your own circumstances, and obtain your own advice, before relying on this information. You should also verify the nature of any product or service (including its legal status and relevant regulatory requirements) and consult the relevant Regulators' websites before making any decision. Finder, or the author, may have holdings in the cryptocurrencies discussed.

Latest cryptocurrency news

Picture: Shutterstock

Get into cryptocurrency

Ask an Expert

You are about to post a question on

  • Do not enter personal information (eg. surname, phone number, bank details) as your question will be made public
  • is a financial comparison and information service, not a bank or product provider
  • We cannot provide you with personal advice or recommendations
  • Your answer might already be waiting – check previous questions below to see if yours has already been asked

Finder only provides general advice and factual information, so consider your own circumstances, or seek advice before you decide to act on our content. By submitting a question, you're accepting our Terms of Use, Disclaimer & Privacy Policy and Privacy & Cookies Policy.
Go to site