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apple developer enterprise account for rent(buyappleacc.com):Zero-carbon bitcoin? The owner of a US nuclear plant thinks it could strike gold

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,Susquehanna Steam Electric Station, Units 1 and 2. The nuclear power plants are located near Salem Township, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania. — Susquehanna/Nuclear Regulatory Commission/TNS

Could bitcoin mining be the salvation of the embattled nuclear energy industry in America?

The owners of several nuclear power plants, including two in Pennsylvania, have formed ventures with cryptocurrency companies to provide the electricity needed to run computer centres that "mine" bitcoin. Since nuclear energy does not emit greenhouse gases, the project's investors say, the zero-carbon bitcoin would address climate concerns that have tarnished the energy-intensive cryptocurrency industry.

Talen Energy, the owner of the Susquehanna Steam Electric Station near Berwick, Pa., announced this week that it has signed a deal with TeraWulf Inc, an Easton, Md cryptocurrency mining firm, to build a giant bitcoin factory next to its twin reactors in northern Pennsylvania. The first phase of the venture, dubbed Nautilus Cryptomine, could cost up to US$400mil (RM1.6bil).

Talen's project could eventually use up to 300 megawatts — or 12% of Susquehanna's 2,500 MW capacity. It's the second bitcoin-mining venture in the last month that involves owners of Pennsylvania nuclear facilities.

Last month Energy Harbor Corp, the former power-generation subsidiary of First Energy Corp, announced it signed a five-year agreement to provide zero-carbon electricity to a new bitcoin mining centre operated by Standard Power in Coshocton, Ohio. Energy Harbor owns two nuclear units in Ohio and the twin-unit Beaver Valley Power Station in Western Pennsylvania.

A nuclear fission start-up, Oklo, also announced last month it signed a 20-year deal with a bitcoin miner to supply it with power, though the company has not yet built a power plant.

In recent years, commercial nuclear operators have struggled to compete in competitive electricity markets against natural gas plants and upstart renewable sources such as wind and solar. Unfavourable market conditions have hastened the retirements of several single-unit reactors, such as Three Mile Island Unit 1 in Pennsylvania. Lawmakers in New Jersey, New York and Illinois have enacted nuclear bailouts, paid by electricity customers, to stave off early retirement for other plants.

The cryptocurrency deals would provide nuclear generators with reliable outlets for their power, and bitcoin miners with predictable sources of power at cheap prices, along with a zero-carbon cachet.

"Nuclear energy is uniquely positioned to provide power to crypto mining companies and other major energy users who have committed to a carbon-free future," John Kotek, senior vice president of policy development and government affairs at Nuclear Energy Institute, said in an email.

The nuclear industry views the crypto craze not as a crutch but as a launching pad for expansion. "US nuclear power plants are ready and able to supply miners with abundant, reliable carbon-free power while also providing new business pathways for the nuclear developers and utilities, increasing their operating profits, and potentially accelerating the deployment of the next generation of reactors," Kotek said.

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