Small Modular Reactors

Bitcoin / Joint Venture Will See US ‘Mining’ Facility Powered By Nuclear

By David Dalton
5 August 2021

Announcement is one of a number related to cryptocurrencies and reactors
Joint Venture Will See US ‘Mining’ Facility Powered By Nuclear
Recently a number of companies announced plans to use nuclear to power crypto-mining enterprising. Image courtesy Creative Commons.
US power company Talen Energy is forming a joint venture with bitcoin mining company TeraWulf to develop up to 300 MW of zero-carbon bitcoin mining capacity powered by the Susquehanna nuclear power station in Pennsylvania.

Texas-based TeraWulf said phase one of the Nautilus Cryptomine facility is a 180-MW bitcoin mining plant which will be built on Talen’s digital infrastructure campus next to its two-unit Susquehanna nuclear station.

The Nautilus Cryptomine will be powered via a direct interconnection to Susquehanna that will provide “low-cost, reliable, zero-carbon electricity”, Talen Energy said.

The cryptomine facility will be located “behind the meter” directly connected to Susquehanna which will provide Nautilus Cryptomine with one of the lowest electricity costs among publicly traded bitcoin mining peers in the US.

The joint venture is expected to invest approximately $350-$400m in phase one of the operation with commercial operation planned for the middle of 2022.

Last month Ohio-based nuclear operator Energy Harbor signed a five-year partnership with Standard Power to provide electricity from its nuclear fleet to Standard Power’s new bitcoin blockchain mining centre in Coshocton, Ohio beginning in December 2021.

Silicon Valley nuclear startup Oklo announced recently it had signed a 20-year commercial partnership with Compass Mining to power bitcoin mining with advanced nuclear plants.

Bitcoin mining – the process in which a bitcoin is awarded to a computer that solves a complex series of algorithms – is a deeply energy-intensive process. “Mining” bitcoin involves solving complex maths problems in order to create new bitcoins. Miners are rewarded in bitcoin.

Bitcoin mining now requires special computer equipment that can handle the intense processing power needed to get bitcoin today. These special computers need a lot of electricity to run.

The amount of electricity used to mine bitcoin “has historically been more than [electricity used by] entire countries”, said Benjamin Jones, a professor of economics at the University of New Mexico who has researched bitcoin’s environmental impact.

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