Revelstoke’s drive towards a high technology future may be — maybe — taking another big step forward, this after early details about a possible cryptocurrency mining operation near the Revelstoke Dam have become somewhat public.
Although many details are still lacking at this point, a proponent is hatching plans to build a 100 MW cryptocurrency mining facility near the Revelstoke Dam, and has expressed plans to expand the facility to 1,000 megawatts (MW). According to a BC Hydro fact sheet, the Revelstoke Dam has a total generating capacity of 2,480 MW.
News of the potential facility came from a Mountaineer reader tip.
Kelowna-based company Downtown Electric Corp. recently posted a job offer on the job search website Indeed. The advertisement sought a Field Safety Representative to work as part of a team involved in the planning of the cryptocurrency mining facility in Revelstoke.
“The candidate will work with a consultant team of electricians as well as engineering firms and BC Hydro in the planning, development and construction of an up and coming expansion of a cryptocurrency facility,” the job posting states.
It was one of several job postings for journeyman electricians and an electrical engineer for the project on the site — on April 1.
The suspect date aside, the Revelstoke Mountaineer followed up with Downtown Electric to find out more details about the project, but the company says it isn’t willing to release details.
“It’s still in the early planning stages right now, so I can’t give any confirmation about any details of the project at this time,” Ryan Greer, director for Downtown Electric said in an email.
His email domain name was the same as the website for the Kelowna-based electrical services company, which lists its services as everything from residential calls to a variety of commercial projects. The website has listings on classified sites and ratings on crowd-sourced review websites.
The Indeed job posting does provide some information about the proposed cryptocurrency mining station. According to the post the main building will be attached to the Revelstoke Dam and will initially be fed with a 100 MW service.
According to Downtown Electric Corp.’s job posting, phase two of the project could see the facilities upgraded to 1,000 megawatts. From there, the proponent hopes to expand to ten 100-megawatt facilities that will sub feed 20 concrete pads that will support shipping containers to house 1,000 crypto currency mining stations.
The second phase of the project would also include construction of several buildings intended for administration, networking, servers, and communication equipment.
What is cryptocurrency mining?
You’ve likely heard of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin or Ethereum, which are digital currencies. Although they’ve been around for a decade or so, they’ve been in the news a lot over the past year as investors piled on to buy the currencies, which were appreciating in value rapidly (and also experiencing wild swings in value as they attracted speculators, punters and fraudsters.)
Cryptocurrencies are essentially a digital asset that’s designed to be used as an alternative currency. They’re based on blockchain digital technology. It gets pretty technical from here, but basically banks of powerful computers are used to “mine” the cryptocurrency by validating transactions on the distributed network. The miners are rewarded with new cryptocurrency. So, essentially, by connecting to the network and performing computations, you can earn digital currency.
The computational process requires electricity to power and cool the computers; the bigger the operation, the more electricity it requires.
Is this going to become a reality?
The Mountaineer attempted to verify the information provided in the job advertisement, but at this point there is little to go on.
BC Hydro spokesperson Jen Walker-Larsen said she didn’t readily have details about the project but is planning to follow up with the Mountaineer to provide more information.
The Mountaineer has also put out requests to several other organizations including the City of Revelstoke, the BC Blockchain Association and the BC Utilities Commission. We’ll update this story as more information becomes available.
The project would no doubt require permits, but none have come forward publicly via City of Revelstoke processes.
So, is this a serious proposition? At this point, all there is to go on is a job advertisement on a website. Given the spike in public interest and gold-rush mentality surrounding cryptocurrencies in the past year, it’s difficult to discern whether this project is serious, or just someone dreaming big about striking it rich, or perhaps someone having a laugh on April 1?