A Startup Wants To Reopen a Coal Plant to Mine Bitcoin

Australian company IOT Group wants to power its new bitcoin facility with old energy tech.

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Getty ImagesDean Mouhtaropoulos / Staff

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have been a hot topic over the past few months, and millions of people have started either buying them or making them. The latter group are called ‘miners’ and form the backbone behind all cryptocurrency transactions.

The only problem is that mining cryptocurencies requires a tremendous amount of computing power and electricity. It's these high electricity costs that make mining almost completely unprofitable.

the plans of IOT Group, an Australian startup, to lower this high cost barrier for entry by . Although that the move is a simple stunt to raise stock value (think of a slightly more elaborate version of the blockchain rebrain), the startup plans to reopen a decommissioned coal plant in order to power their ‘Blockchain Application Centre’ just north of Sydney.

IOT Group plans to rent out their coal-powered servers to companies and individuals looking for some cheap blockchain technology. Blockchain is the tech behind Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, and is also used for a number of other decentralized applications. With a cheap source of electricity those applications could see a significant boost.

But while this could be good for blockchain technology, it isn't for the environment. In some cases, the electricity powering cryptocurrency mining comes from hydro, solar, nuclear, or other environmentally-friendly sources. But in most cases—like this one—that electricity comes from coal or natural gas, an energy source humanity is trying to leave behind.

An advisor to the company says the startup only wants to use 5 percent of the plant's original output and will eventually transfer to renewables, but it's another example of how cryptocurrency's carbon footprint is only growing.

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