Emailed communication from within Electrogas tabled yesterday in Parliament by MP Jason Azzopardi shows that the energy company commenced evaluations for the use of the Malta power plant to mine bitcoin in a dedicated data centre.
Jason Azzopardi said the email was part of the same stash of emails leaked to Daphne Caruana Galizia prior to her death which was the source of much of what we know of the Electrogas scandal.
Mining Bitcoin involves the use of dedicated computers working on solving mathematical equations at high speed which is rewarded with the minting of digital currency. The process requires considerable electrical energy which is the most significant cost component of a bitcoin mining operation.
The plans discussed in the published email considered the use of excess energy capacity generated by the power station.
A significance of this is that the energy used for the mining of bitcoin would be generated and consumed in a power station built on the back of a €350 million bank guarantee provided by Maltese tax-payers. It would also mean that the electricity used for data mining would be generated on land granted to the power company at a reduced cost. The cost was reduced for the public purpose of generating electricity for the country. It would, however, be reducing costs for an entirely private commercial operation that has no added benefit to the community.
On the contrary, the initiative would increase the environmental cost of the power station adding emissions electricity generated for a purely commercial enterprise belonging to the power station owners but suffered by the general population.
The email published by Jason Azzopardi yesterday, from September 2017, demonstrates that Electrogas was considering this project. However, it does not show whether Electrogas went ahead or is going ahead with implementing the measure.
A copy of the email tabled by Jason Azzopardi is here.