Major Japanese Utility Works With Local Hardware Maker to Capitalize on Excess Power With Crypto Mining

Tokyo Electric Power Grid (TEPCO), a major utility company in Japan, is working with local mining rig manufacturer TRIPLE-1 to capitalize on excess power on its grid.

The utility has struggled to rebuild its business and reputation after, in 2011, an earthquake and tsunami struck nuclear reactors in Fukushima that it was operating without proper risk controls. In 2012, the government later bought a 50.1% stake in the company.

TEPCO formed a subsidiary called Agile Energy X aimed to create digital value out of the utility's excess power, including through cryptocurrency mining, in September. The two companies signed a memorandum of understanding with TRIPLE-1, a local hardware manufacturer to develop distributed data centers throughout the country that capitalize on excess renewable energy with TRIPLE-1's semiconductors, in a Wednesday press release.

The aim of the project is to "make effective use of surplus power" by creating new demand for crypto mining and artificial intelligence computation, according to the press release.

The three companies have already set up a demo project in Tokyo; a 1.5 megawatt (MW) data center with 1,300 computers which look very similar to mining rigs in a photo posted along with the press release.

Japan could be generating twice the amount of renewable energy its is producing today, Japan's Ministry of Energy said in a report published this year. That's because renewable energy curtailement has grown in recent years, meaning more energy goes unused, and it has been difficult to connect more reneable energy sources to the grid due to congestion, the companies said.

Despite the turbulence, TEPCO remains one of the largest utility companies in Japan, with a market cap of approximately JPY 820 billion ($6 billion), less than half what it was before the Fukushima disaster. The utility provides services on the eastern part of Honshu island, including the Tokyo metropolitan area.