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Historic Power Plant Decides Mining Bitcoin Is More Profitable Than Selling Electricity

Dam
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

A hydroelectric plant built in 1897 is serving a very different function now. The Albany Times Union reported that the Mechanicville, NY plant operated by Albany Engineering Corp. is currently mining Bitcoin with some of the power it produces.

"We think this is the oldest renewable energy facility in the world that’s still running,” Albany Engineering Corp. CEO Jim Besha told the Albany Times Union. He also said the plant "can actually make more money with bitcoin than selling the electricity to National Grid," though, which is why he's taken to mining the cryptocurrency.

Power Plant

(Image credit: TimesUnion.com)

Bitcoin mining is an energy-intensive operation that requires a lot of powerful equipment. Criticism of the cryptocurrency's environmental impact has led to renewed pushes for it to be mined using renewable energy sources like this hydroelectric plant in New York or a proposed volcano-powered mine in El Salvador.

Besha doesn't appear to be all-in on Bitcoin, however. "It’s the best [type of bitcoin mining] because we’re using renewable energy," he told the Albany Times Union. "We’re just doing it on the side, experimenting with it. We're buying used servers." (Not that new servers are going to be particularly easy to come by at the moment.)

He's also selling the coins as they're mined because of the crypto market's volatility. This experimentation with Bitcoin, combined with the plant's listing on the National Register of Historic Places and its use of renewable energy, could help set it apart from similar efforts to mine the cryptocurrency in upstate New York.

It's not clear how a bill that would ban cryptocurrency mining in New York would affect Albany Engineering Corp.'s plans—which could be another reason why Besha hasn't fully committed to cryptocurrency mining. That bill, S6486B, passed the New York Senate and is now waiting for a vote from the New York Assembly.

  • Yuka
    If this is not peak insanity for Crypto, I don't know where the line is anymore... Maybe we've crossed it a long time ago? I wouldn't be surprised, but this is pretty darn out there to be a new line.

    Regards.
    Reply
  • coolitic
    Grossly clickbaity and misleading headline.
    Reply
  • mogster
    I'm surprised this didn't happen in Texas.
    Reply
  • salgado18
    Yuka said:
    If this is not peak insanity for Crypto, I don't know where the line is anymore... Maybe we've crossed it a long time ago? I wouldn't be surprised, but this is pretty darn out there to be a new line.

    Regards.
    I guess only building a new powerplant just to mine crypto is the peak of it. The line has been crossed miles ago, anyway.
    Reply
  • Yuka
    coolitic said:
    Grossly clickbaity and misleading headline.
    Interesting. Care to elaborate?

    Regards.
    Reply
  • VforV
    I find those still thinking that crypto has no future as naive as those still considering China as a non-factor.

    Both are only going to get bigger and bigger. Although they are not necessarily related or mirror the same growth rate.

    I'm not particularly a fan of them, but at the same time I'm not wearing horse blinders either.
    Reply
  • AtrociKitty
    Yuka said:
    Interesting. Care to elaborate?

    The headline implies the plant stopped selling electricity in favor of mining. In actuality, they're only experimenting with mining, while still operating and selling power to the grid as normal. Just compare the quote in the article with the headline:

    Article Text said:
    He also said the plant "can actually make more money with bitcoin than selling the electricity to National Grid,"

    "We’re just doing it on the side, experimenting with it. We're buying used servers."
    Article Headline said:
    Historic Power Plant Decides Mining Bitcoin Is More Profitable Than Selling Electricity
    See the difference?
    Reply
  • USAFRet
    And in other bitcoin news, from the same region....

    https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2021/07/bitcoin-power-plant-is-turning-a-12000-year-old-glacial-lake-into-a-hot-tub/
    Reply
  • TechLurker
    On one hand, it's not a bad thing for renewable power facilities with idle excess to use the excess power on controlled mining, helps pay for themselves and maintenance (if the execs are forward-thinking enough). It also results in a limit as to how far they can expand the mining operation, being as it'd be dependent on spare power being available and average seasonal effects (an issue more for wind and solar, but drought can affect hydroelectric).

    On the other, it seems like a waste, considering they could also be putting that same energy reserves into battery storage systems for the rare freak storm, or long-term energy contracts with local charging stations or hydrogen production stations (both would sell too, just not as instantly as mined coin) guaranteeing power (or fuel) even in brownout scenarios.

    Maybe a combination of the two could be agreeable? Spare excess electricity to mining to build up some cash reserves for operational and maintenance costs, and also to emergency reserve systems such as battery power plants or dedicated charging facilities.
    Reply
  • daworstplaya
    What a waste of energy, what's even crazier is people BELIEVE crypto currency has value. :rolleyes:
    Reply