Cryptomining gets nuclear power push

Susquehanna Steam Electric Station (Cryptomining)
Susquehanna Steam Electric Station

Cryptomining is a power-hungry pursuit, and US power company Talen Energy has revealed plans to build a 300MW cryptocurrency mining facility and data centre next to its nuclear Susquehanna Steam Electric Station in Pennsylvania, Data Center Dynamics (via Techspot) reports.

The cryptomining operation, Cumulus Coin, is a subsidiary of Talen Energy and is scheduled to come online in March 2022. The development will have 164MW capacity to begin with, however, the aim is to have at least 300MW of onsite power by completion and the ability to expand to 1GW capacity in the future.

Talen Energy said the facility would provide low-cost, reliable, carbon-free power to data centre clients on campus.

Related article: Bitcoin: China’s crackdown isn’t enough—only a global effort can stop crypto’s monstrous energy demand

“As the demand for energy increases among data center and cryptocurrency processing clients, so does the call for decarbonizing these energy sources,” a spokesperson for Talen said.

“This allows clients to benefit from carbon-free, 24/7 power being supplied directly to the campus, without the intermittency that renewable energy can experience, or requiring fossil fuels.”

The company has already secured permits for the site and commenced construction.

With the environmental impact of cryptomining gaining more attention, more firms are embracing carbon-free mining. Energy Harbor Corp just announced a five-year partnership with Standard Power to provide nuclear power to the former’s new Bitcoin blockchain mining centre in Coshocton, Ohio, from December.

“Other states and countries are looking at nuclear-powered cryptomining options, along with alternative power sources such as hydroelectric and even volcanic,” Techspot reported.

Related article: Tesla’s Bitcoin about-face is a warning for cryptocurrencies that ignore climate change

What is cryptocurrency?

Cryptocurrency is a digital or virtual currency that is secured by cryptography, which makes it nearly impossible to counterfeit or double-spend. Many cryptocurrencies are decentralised networks based on blockchain technology—a distributed ledger enforced by a disparate network of computers. A defining feature of cryptocurrencies is that they are generally not issued by any central authority, rendering them theoretically immune to government interference or manipulation.

What is cryptomining?

Cryptomining or bitcoin mining is the process by which new bitcoins are entered into circulation, but it is also a critical component of the maintenance and development of the blockchain ledger. It is performed using very sophisticated computers that solve extremely complex computational math problems. The Digiconomist’s Bitcoin Energy Consumption Index estimated that one Bitcoin transaction takes 1,544kWh to complete, or the equivalent of approximately 53 days of power for the average US household.