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This coal power plant is being reopened for blockchain mining

The now shuttered coal-fired power station on Australia's east coast will offer cheap power prices to blockchain operators.

Workers Finish Last Shifts As Hazelwood Power Station Shuts Down
Could old power stations be the future of bitcoin mining?
Scott Barbour/Getty Images

Sure, you could mine bitcoin on that old PC in your garage, or you could use a whole power station to do it.

That's the idea behind the Blockchain Application Centre -- an Aussie tech initiative that will see one of the country's now-shuttered coal-fired power plants reopened to provide cheap power for blockchain applications.

It's the work of Australian tech company IOT Group, which has partnered with local power company Hunter Energy on the project. According to The Age, Hunter Energy will recommission the Redbank power station in the Hunter Valley, two hours drive north of Sydney.

Once the power plant is reopened (expected to be completed within 12 months), it will offer wholesale or "pre-grid" power prices to blockchain companies, allowing them to do things like mining cryptocurrencies, without having to pay retail power prices.

There's no doubt blockchain is the next big thing in the tech world. It's essentially a technology that stores individual transactions in an ever-growing set of data blocks, allowing different parties to see the same information because it's distributed across computers, rather than being stored in one place.

But while blockchain guarantees trust in a digital world, mining blocks (the process of adding and securing data) is an incredibly compute-intensive task, and one which consumes a huge amount of power. World mining of bitcoin (probably the most well-known blockchain application) currently uses about as much power as the country of Singapore.

IOT Group and Hunter Energy want to get around that, offering cheaper power to companies in the blockchain field and hopefully enticing international operations to base their operations in Australia.

According to a spokesperson from Hunter Energy, it expects roughly 5% of the energy from the power plant will be used for blockchain related processes. 

Update, Apr. 12 at 16:14 p.m. AEDT: Adds comment from Hunter Energy.