Former NSW coal plant to be repurposed for blockchain

Redbank coal-fired power station, under care and maintenance in the Hunter Valley, New South Wales since 2014, is to be repurposed as the IOT Blockchain Application Centre (BAC) for the provision of cheap electricity to blockchain companies.

The project will be led by tech company IOT Group and renewables experts Hunter Energy, which expects to reopen the plant within the next year.

Blockchain refers to the decentralised digital log of cryptocurrency transaction data, which is made up of a series of ever-expanding series of ‘blocks’. The process of adding to the blockchain requires a significant amount of electricity generation, which makes the BAC a potentially attractive project for foreign investment to Australia.

In an interview with The Age, IOT Group executive director Sean Neylon was quoted as saying: “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.”

The BAC will be Hunter Energy’s first project; its mission statement, according to the Hunter Energy website, is to develop “a model at the heart [of] the energy transition from coal, to a reduced emission environment whilst maintaining the system reliability needed”.

Following refiring of the plant, Hunter Energy plans to reduce emissions in an number of ways, including the potential use of waste wood in the fuel mix following completion of an appropriate feasibility study.

In addition, the company is exploring the potential for solar integration, with scoping studies having been carried out for an adjacent grid-scale solar facility.

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