Collie Solar Farm to power data centre/crypto mining

An application has been made for a Collie solar farm to be built in the coal-mining town in Western Australia. Approval for a 20MW solar farm has been obtained and the power will be used to mine cryptocurrencies and power a data centre.

Collie Solar Farm – Approval

Collie Solar Farm
Collie Solar Farm (source: wikipedia)

According to RenewEconomy, the application was made by Hadouken Pty Ltd, which is a company run by Ben Tan (of Tesla Holdings and VivoPower fame). Last Tuesday the Joint Development Assessment Panel approved the project which will be built on rural property around 2km north of Collie. The farm will be located on 18 hectares at 323 Patstone Road, near the Western Power Collie sub-station – not far from the Muja Power Station.

The Collie solar farm will be used to run the algorithms which mine cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Litecoin and Ethereum. This is a power-intensive exercise and we’ve already seen quite a lot of solar-powered mining rigs – but this seems to be the largest in Australia so far. 

The Collie Mail are reporting that five banks of fixed-tilt modules will create the 20MW, which will cost around $16m and may include energy storage either at launch or post project completion.

“Approval and implementation of the proposal will also be a positive contribution towards establishing a greater presence of the renewable energy sector within the Shire of Collie,” the approved application stated.

 “The proposal will assist the State in meeting growing energy demand (particularly with Synergy accelerating its closure of the Muja AB coal-fired power station) and will be a significant move towards a presence of the renewable energy sector in the district.”

If you’re interested in reading the notes of the meeting where they approved the farm please click here to access them. There is also an email in there which shows residents of Patstone Road complaining about the project and location, worried about the ‘eye sore’ (sic) and a seemingly impending ‘disastrous situation’ if the farm is approved. It’s great to see councils not bending to this sort of NIMBY pressure we hear about every time a solar project is approved. 



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Microgrid in NYC using blockchain technology launched.

Some interesting news out of Brooklyn this week as a group of residents and local businesses have banded together to create their own ‘microgrid’ – powered by the exciting new technology known as the blockchain.

Solar Microgrid

Siemens Digital Grid Division have set up the Park Slope area of Brooklyn with a full physical microgrid which includes battery storage, converters, control systems, and smart meters. The microgrid involves decentralised distributed energy generation and is able to exist and function completely outside the conventional regional power grid. Theoretically this could work for entire cities who would be able to use their own energy for residents, and even make money by selling it back to the central grid if required.

Administration is also quite simple (this is a bit of a relative term but when you consider the inherent challenges of such a system it is a very neat fit) – this microgrid technology is powered by the cheap to run and impossible to forge Blockchain – which is also used for decentralised currencies such as Bitcoin. The Park Slope blockchain platform has been set up and is being managed by LO3 Energy.

LO3 Energy Microgrid Brooklyn
LO3 Energy

About the blockchain

LO3 Energy will be using the blockchain to run what they call a “TransActive Grid” – which ensures each energy transaction is securely timestamped. This allows every movement of energy, however small, to be securely documented and applied to the correct account. The energy will be purchasable under an auction agreement where one of the ~50 homeowners/businesses are able to set a maximum price per kWh and receive energy accordingly. Lithium Ion energy storage will back up the microgrid in situations where there isn’t enough power being generated. In the event of no energy storage being available they are also connected to the main energy grid where they’re able to feed and receive power at general rates.

Potential further application of blockchain technology in the solar industry

The Park Slope project’s goal is to have 1,000 participants by next year – with a commensurate increase in the amount of battery storage and solar PV systems. LO3 Energy were quoted as saying they hope to make it possible “to establish a self-sufficient power supply for the microgrid in the event of a city-wide blackout’. It’ll be interesting to see how much power they’re able to generate, how much the average price per kWh ends up being, how much they still need to buy from the grid (or how much they make selling excess back in peak times). There are lots of variables which will help us see how viable this is with the current cost of PV solar and energy storage, and how well it will complement the existing grid.

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