Crypto miners can ‘offer stability’ to Australian grid

bitcoin (crypto stability)
Image: Shutterstock

Bitcoin and crypto miners say they can offer the stability the Australian power network needs by absorbing excess supply as renewable energy replaces more stable coal-generated power in the local energy mix, according to The Australian Financial Review.

Bitcoin and crypto miners say their large energy consumption and ability to turn on and off quickly provides power reliability to communities in real time as the global energy mix transitions.

“Coal has been seen as a reliable power source to date which is a challenge renewable energy has to face,” DAME chief executive officer Cam Nelson said.

Related article: Bitcoin bubble could swallow world’s energy production

“But a really powerful way to increase renewable resilience in the grid is to build up oversupply, which, when the communities don’t need it, bitcoin miners can use.”

Bitcoin miners are proffering themselves as buyers of excess power in power networks, arguing they can turn off their operations at times when demand is greatest and feeding their large load back into the grid.

“Other large energy consumers like Rio Tinto or BHP can’t just shut down their operations if the needs of the communities are greater than theirs, but bitcoin miners can, which gives energy producers a way to make sure their power is always going somewhere and smooths out the pricing,” Nelson said.

According to the University of Cambridge, bitcoin miners are expected to consume roughly 130 terawatt-hours of energy this year, which is roughly 0.6 per cent of global electricity consumption.

This puts the crypto sector on par with the carbon dioxide emissions of developing nations such as Sri Lanka or Jordan.

But bitcoin miners argue their flexibility and their constant demand is the tool that gives renewable energy producers carte blanche to produce as much power as they can, ensuring the grid always has supply and the producers always have a buyer.

Related article: Cryptomining gets nuclear power push

The Australian Financial Review said Bitcoin miners had been signing deals with renewable energy providers around the country, explicitly writing into their contracts their commitment to adjust their use in reaction to wider community needs.

“We just become the buyer of last resort, always ready to pick up some more power but always able to turn off quickly,” said James Manning, chief executive of Mawson Infrastructure, which has signed a deal with renewable energy provider Quinbrook Infrastructure Partners.

Manning said his willingness to curtail energy demand at peak network load times was a key element to the deal with Quinbrook.