Australian data center operator DC Two and its cryptocurrency subsidiary D Coin are building what they describe as the country’s first “behind the grid” data center in the coal-mining town of Collie, Western Australia, which will be powered primarily by renewable energy.
The facility will source clean energy from a nearby 20M W solar farm built by renewable energy company Hadouken, owned by local entrepreneur Ben Tan. The company got the development approval for the project in April.
However, at this point, the company still needs to burn coal in order to meet the energy needs of crypto mining.
“Power will be delivered as a mix, more solar during the day and at the moment, coal during other hours. We do not have information or estimates at this stage as to specific ratio/proportion of solar versus coal delivery,“ says Rebecca Thomas of DC Two.
But, there is a real likelihood that the scale will tip to the green side.
“Hadouken has plans to include battery storage with the solar farm to extend the renewable power delivery further into dark hours,“ Thomas tells pv magazine Australia.
The data centre will have specific hosting zones to enable low cost hosting specifically designed for crypto and Bitcoin mining and high redundancy zones for traditional IT activities.
In complete crypto mining configuration, using the initial 4 MW power availability, the data centre could mine about 650 bitcoins per annum worth around $6 million (based on current mining and exchange rates), the company says.
“We’re really excited to be able to have the opportunity to work with a solar farm to do what we can with renewables and with time, extend the renewable proportion as technology allows,“ says Thomas.
It is anticipated that both the first stages of the solar farm and the data centre will be online early in 2019.
The company says this creates a friendly race in the Australian power and data centre market between the DC Two/Hadouken project and the IOT Group/Hunter Energy project as to which project will become the first “behind the grid” powered data centre in Australia.
The second project is, however, less environmentally friendly. It will be located in a decommissioned coal-power plant- the Redbank power station in the Hunter Valley, New South Wales, which will be revived for the provision of electricity to a $190 million Bitcoin mining operation launched by Sydney-based IoT Blockchain and mining hardware distributor Royalti Blockchain Group.
It has been reported that Hunter Energy is exploring the potential for solar integration, with scoping studies having been carried out for an adjacent grid-scale solar facility. But, with the clock ticking, as the center is set to open in early 2019, the environmental impact of this enterprise remains extremely dubious.