The steel city of Whyalla has flipped the switch on South Australia’s first solar-powered Bitcoin mining centre.
- A new 5-megawatt data-mining centre has been unveiled at Whyalla
- The centre generates bitcoins and its processing power can be onsold
- The centre is the first solar-powered digital mining centre in South Australia
Operated by Lumos Digital Mining, the 5 megawatt data centre will be used to mine bitcoins, a type of energy-hungry cryptocurrency that requires computers to solve complex maths problems for financial reward.
Bitcoin is the world’s biggest cryptocurrency. At a time when the world is desperately trying to reduce energy consumption, Bitcoin uses more energy each year than medium-sized nations such as Argentina.
State minister for trade and investment Nick Champion said the fact that the plant could run off solar power showed that bitcoin generation could be more environmentally friendly.
“This is important for decarbonising blockchain, which is a very energy-intensive industry,” he said.
“I think it’s the beginning of a new economy out here at Whyalla.”
A recent White House Office of Science and Technology Policy report showed that US crypto production alone represented as much as 0.3 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions.
Mr Champion said he hoped to see more facilities mining crypto currency using renewable energy.
“There will be demand for blockchain, but also carbon-neutral blockchain so I think we will see more and more facilities like this,” he said.
Lumos Digital Mining’s Angelo Kondylas said the facility could produce about 100 bitcoins a year, depending on power availability.
However, Mr Kondylas also said the company could potentially onsell generated power to others who wanted to take advantage of blockchain technology.
While the site was primarily solar powered, Mr Kondylas said it could ramp up production to draw more power from the grid on the days when electricity generation was high.
“[Energy generators may be] spending $10 million because they have to switch off that day because there’s too much on the system,” he said.
“We’re basically like a sponge; we soak up the excess that’s not used.”
Lumos Digital Mining has said it planned to eventually double the size of the facility.