Blockchain mining delivers flexibility to Sweden’s energy market

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Cryptocurrency miner Hive Blockchain Technologies is partnering with demand response specialist Sympower to deliver flexibility to Vattenfall’s grid.

Hive Blockchain Technologies based in northern Sweden operates over 115,000 computers for the mining of digital currencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum.

In what appears to be a first for data centres and blockchain miners, the majority of these units are being harnessed for flexibility. Under the control of Sympower, over 8MW is being provided to Sweden’s frequency containment reserves for disturbance market.

Hive Blockchain Technologies’ entry to the market has been enabled by the energy company Vattenfall.

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“It is not the intended purpose of data centres to be turned off on demand within seconds,” notes Tobias Ebel, board member of Hive Blockchain Technologies.

“However, thanks to our approach of building an infrastructure of decentralised networks, such as blockchain technologies, we understood that we could turn off and only lose uptime, rather than any data.”

Data centres and blockchain infrastructure providers use a significant amount of computing power and hence a consistently high amount of electricity. Demand response thus offers a valuable new revenue stream for these businesses, with the technology also having a positive impact on their total cost of ownership.

Sympower is using a cloud-to-cloud interface solution on the project, allowing it to connect to Hive Blockchain Technologies’ computing infrastructure server-to-server. This type of implementation has a fast response speed and reduces the amount of hardware needed to be installed on-site.

Sympower’s chief technology officer Neeme Praks sees data centres as a highly scalable business opportunity.

“This proof-of-concept project demonstrates the potentially huge benefits that flexibility can offer data centres and the wider blockchain sector, which is a very energy intensive industry and therefore expensive process.”

Meanwhile Hive Blockchain Technologies has announced a planned 30% expansion of its Ethereum mining capacity using 6MW of green energy during 2021.