Collie solar data centre proposal gets govt backing

A proposal to build a “behind the grid” data centre – which it is claimed will be the first in Australia to be “powered primarily from renewable energy sources” – has received the backing of the Western Australian government.

DC Two announced its plans to build the data centre in August, and last week was named as a recipient of a government grant.

The new data centre will be situated in the coal-mining town of Collie, 200km south of Perth, and alongside a planned 20MW solar farm. The solar farm – being built by a company called Hadouken – obtained planning permissionin April.

It is expected that both the first stages of the solar farm and the data centre – drawing a power supply of up to 4 megawatts – will come online early next year

The data centre was selected by the WA government to receive a slice of its $678,000 Collie Futures Small Grants Program, which backs projects that will drive long-term economic growth and stimulate jobs creation in the town.

“There's incredible opportunities for diversification in Collie, and the McGowan government is standing side-by-side with industry and the community to drive new jobs and projects,” said WA regional development minister Alannah MacTiernan.

Collie is home to a number of coal mines and power stations, but the unemployment rate is increasing and hit 8.6 per cent in March.

"Collie requires strong support from government as its economy undergoes a transition. What we're doing through this program is standing side by side with business and industry to turn ideas into reality to further strengthen Collie," she added.

DC Two said it would use local businesses "from fabricators, electricians right through to general labourers" for to construct the containerised data centre.

"Once the build is complete, we will need one to two full time staff initially, increasing with customer demand," the company added.

A diagram of the proposed data centre

When complete the data centre will house around 256 racks each capable of up to 30kw of IT load.

“The grant vindicates our differentiated data centre strategy. We are addressing the key issues of power consumption and cost with the aim of delivering a globally competitive offering. Accessing the grant will accelerate and broaden outcomes both for the region and ourselves,” said DC Two managing director Justin Thomas.

The data centre is being pitched as “specifically designed for crypto and Bitcoin mining”. DC Two also has a subsidiary, called D Coin, which is a crypto-mining hosting firm.

Cheap power is critical to profitability in cryptocurrency mining. Falls in the value of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies in recent months mean even when powered by very low-cost electricity, many mining operations are now struggling to break even.

Public utilities in Washington in the USlast week hiked electricity prices for mining operations.

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