Australian Piggery Makes History Taking Surplus Energy and Mining Bitcoin

January 12, 2022, 10:00 AM AEST - 5 days ago

Amid a worldwide push to make the crypto industry more environmentally accountable, a Queensland piggery is generating enough excess methane to mine bitcoin.

BettaPork, run by father-and-son farmers Paul and Laurie Brosnan, is situated directly across the road from the Callide coalmine near the Central Queensland town of Biloela.

Generator Powered by Methane

Six years ago, the Brosnans set up two three-million-litre tanks to process the farm’s pig waste – along with food scraps from schools and cafes in town and cattle waste from the local meatworks – to create methane, which is used to power a generator.

BettaPork now generates enough electricity to power 140 homes and is saving the farm hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. So much so that a business partner recently suggested bitcoin mining as a sustainable way to utilise the roughly 100 kilowatts of excess energy generated by the piggery’s biogas plant.

BettaPork director and general manager Laurie Brosnan. Source: theaustralian.com.au

BettaPork general manager Laurie Brosnan, whose grandfather founded the farm in 1959, says a trial using two bitcoin mining terminals has already proved successful and more generators will soon be added.

“These two little boxes are validating transactions, creating a lot of heat and making money,” Brosnan told The Australian newspaper. “Last week, each of them was making A$8 every four hours.

In Germany they joke that pork is a by-product of power because they pay so much for the electricity they generate. Here, we can do it sustainably. It’s good for the environment, it’s good for the hip pocket, and it’s good for the pigs.

Laurie Brosnan, general manager, BettaPork

The number of crypto­ mining terminals is ­limited only by the amount of available electricity, which in turn is limited only by the amount of feedstock for the onsite biogas plant.

The bacteria basically farts and creates the gas that goes into the engines, and the engines power the whole site.

Laurie Brosnan, general manager, BettaPork

“Our limit right now would be 20 machines, but if we have enough feedstock we could generate 1000kw,” Brosnan says. “If we want [to mine] more crypto, we just need more food waste.”

No Grants, Just Grunts – and They’re Green

The farm’s technological refit was achieved without government grants and was simply driven by the family’s desire to be as energy-efficient as possible. They have even installed their own fibre cable to control the farm’s pumps online, while the biogas plant also produces water and fertiliser that can be used in the paddocks.

“We’ve got some old sheds we plan to update to save ourselves 70 percent of our power. That’s another two or three crypto miners right there,” Brosnan says.

Eight hours’ drive south across the Queensland-NSW border, the seaside town of Byron Bay is the site of Australia’s largest bitcoin mine, powered by 100 percent renewable energy, although pigs are not involved.

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