Cryptocurrency mining is extremely energy intensive, and with the United States now the primary source of Bitcoin production, companies are turning to nuclear power plants to power their operations.
Bitcoin’s global mining network consumed around 67 TWh of electricity in 2020, according to Cambridge University’s Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index (BECI). This figure has already been exceeded in 2021, with an estimated consumption of 89.3 TWh of electricity in the first ten months of this year. And as the profitability of cryptocurrency increases, becomes accepted by the general public, and becomes more widely accepted, this demand is expected to continue.
Historically, most of Bitcoin’s mining operations have centered in China. But in May 2021, the Chinese State Council banned cryptocurrency mining and trading, citing environmental and financial concerns.
The United States is now the main source of Bitcoin production. In August, U.S. miners made up 35.4% of the average monthly hashrate, according to BECI data.
At the same time, there has also been growing interest in the environmental and social aspects of Bitcoin mining.
In May, Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, announced that the company had suspended purchases of vehicles using Bitcoin, saying in a tweet: any fuel. “Cryptocurrency is a good idea on many levels … but it can’t cost the environment too much.”
As consumers and shareholders take issues like climate change and sustainability increasingly seriously, companies are starting to take action to address these concerns.
Energy Harbor has entered into a five-year partnership with Standard Power to supply electricity from its nuclear fleet to Standard Power’s new Bitcoin mining center in Coshocton, Ohio, starting in December 2021. In addition to creating jobs in region By reallocating an abandoned Ohio paper mill, the deal is helping Standard Power meet its sustainability goals.
“Bitcoin blockchain mining centers are energy intensive and we recognize our responsibility to build a more environmentally friendly future,” commented Maxim Serezhin, CEO of Standard Power. “We chose Ohio because of its low electricity costs and the availability of carbon-free energy sources. “
Another US utility, Talen Energy, formed Cumulus Data in 2020 to “invest in the opportunities created by the convergence of digital infrastructure and electricity”.
Talen Energy plans to develop the Susquehanna Hyperscale Campus (SHC), a nuclear-powered cryptomining facility and data center on undeveloped land adjacent to its 2494MWe Susquehanna nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania.
The installation, which is expected to be commissioned in the second quarter of 2022, will initially have a capacity of 164 MW, rising to 300 MW when completed. The delivery of electricity to the site will be handled by the two nuclear units and two independent substations. There is further potential for expansion to 1 GW capacity in the future if needed, says Talen.
Linxon was contracted to provide a turnkey solution using Hitachi Energy products for the 500 / 69kV Gas Insulated Substation (GIS), 230 / 69kV GIS and hybrid substations, requiring rapid design, engineering, permits, civil works, procurement, construction and commissioning activities. GSE DP Engineering has announced that it will prepare design changes to address the connection of new transmission lines to existing 230 kV and 500 kV lines currently serving the facility’s main switching stations.
Talen has entered into a joint venture with TeraWulf, a US-based bitcoin mining company, to develop bitcoin mining capacity. The joint venture, Nautilus Cryptomine, will leverage the strengths of both companies as they work collectively to advance the convergence of clean energy sources and digital infrastructure assets.
The joint venture plans to invest around $ 350-400 million in phase I of the operation with an overall hash rate expected to exceed 5 exahash per second. He says the facility, located “behind the meter” directly connected to Susquehanna, will provide Nautilus Cryptomine with one of the lowest electricity costs among publicly traded bitcoin mining peers in the United States.
An advanced vision of reactors
U.S.-based Oklo announced in July a 20-year business partnership with Compass Mining, the world’s leading online marketplace for Bitcoin Mining hardware and hosting. With the increase in energy consumption from bitcoin mining, the Oklo and Compass partnership aims to introduce advanced fission to supplement fossil fuels and promote the diversity and sustainability of energy sources used by communities. minors.
Oklo says its advanced fission plants will provide base power for Compass’s Bitcoin mining machines, starting in the “early 2020s.” Oklo has committed to providing at least 150 MW of power to Compass in the first phase of this partnership, but notes that the project is scalable and can add additional capacity to accelerate sustainable mining efforts.
The Oklo Aurora plant, unveiled in December 2019, is a 1.5 MW fast neutron reactor that uses heat pipes to transport heat from the reactor core to a supercritical carbon dioxide energy conversion system to produce electricity. It is currently the only reactor undergoing licensing review by the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), with the first unit to be built at the Idaho National Laboratory (INL).
Aurora will operate on low enriched uranium metal fuel (HALEU). The combustible material allocated by INL is expected to power Oklo’s first power plant, while the short-term deployment of the power plant will be fueled by the US company Centrus Energy Corp. In November, Oklo signed a non-binding letter of intent to cooperate with Centrus in the development of a HALEU production unit. Centrus is building the first licensed HALEU production facility in the United States at Piketon, Ohio, with the goal of beginning production demonstration in 2022.
“We are proud to lead new avenues in the commercialization of our plants by partnering with Compass to decarbonize Bitcoin,” said Oklo co-founder and CEO Jacob DeWitte. “Cryptocurrency mining offers promising avenues to accelerate the deployment of clean energy technologies, and Oklo is well positioned to meet commercial demands by providing end users with the convenience of purchasing clean, reliable and profitable energy. they can count on. “
And it’s not just the nuclear industry that miners are turning to. As cryptocurrency grows in popularity, it becomes increasingly important for the industry to match the momentum behind environmental, social, and governance commitments in large corporations.
Global Bitcoin self-mining company Bitfarms Ltd recently announced that it is entering the hydropower business after acquiring a 24 MW farm in Washington State, United States. At the same time, he signed a memorandum of understanding with the project vendor to co-develop additional hydropower in the region, increasing total mining capacity to 99 MW in Washington.