Side Note

Big coal is getting into bed with bitcoin bros

Here’s a pairing of environmentally unsustainable practices made in heaven: a currently-closed coal power station in Australia is reopening in early 2019 so that a blockchain startup can mine cryptocurrencies.

A single Bitcoin transaction currently sucks up as much power as it takes to heat a home for a month. The coal plant’s operation for this purpose would involve using 5 percent of the power station’s maximum capacity. IOT Group, the blockchain startup partnering with local power company Hunter Energy for this project, said on its website that having a direct connection to the power station could lower the energy cost of mining cryptocurrencies of up to 20 percent.

This particular coal power station already failed massively once. It has a record of illegal waste product pollution and skirting air pollution regulations that closed after being delisted from the Australian stock exchange and falling into $192 million of debt.

Even if this operation won’t start out using all that much of the power station, mining could easily expand and proliferate. Mining spikes have had a devastating effect on electricity bills in small towns. It’s too early to know whether this will be the case in Australia, but it’s not unsurprising that two environmentally reckless industries are collaborating to save themselves.