Image for article titled Texas Warns of Future Blackouts as Bitcoin Mining Doubles Electricity Demand

Photo: Mark Felix (Getty Images)

Everything is bigger in Texas, including problems with your power grid and Bitcoin’s energy demand. A new analysis shows that the power grid is as vulnerable to the crisis as it was before the February blackouts, just as the state prepares to welcome cryptocurrency operations that will add enormous demand to the grid. According to experts, it is not known what could happen.

a report published Friday by ERCOT, the organization that operates the Texas power grid, found that extreme weather, even conditions less severe than the ones he had in February that caused a massive blackout, they could trigger power outages and network problems. ERCOT has been In the spotlight due to the February crisis, but this analysis, critics say, proves that the biggest problems in how ERCOT prepares for extreme cases have not been fixed. In other words, despite the promises from politicians like Governor Greg Abbott After they have fixed the problems, the Texas network is as badly prepared for disasters as the one in February.

And there is a new problem in this already fragile network: Bitcoin miners, whom the state has been enthusiastically encouraging to settle in Texas. Bloomberg informs that the new energy demand for cryptocurrency mining in Texas could reach 5,000 megawatts in the next two years, about double the annual electricity demand for all of Austin in 2020. That means the old grid could become the home to 20% of the world’s bitcoin mining by the end of next year, up from 8-10% today. Texas is at the forefront of a big push between states and cities of the United States seeking to attract crypto mining operations, after the restrictions in China this summer turned the United States into the # 1 destination for Bitcoin miners.

Suddenly introducing double the electricity demand of a large metropolitan city to a grid that has problems under normal circumstances can seem like a dangerous idea, especially considering that the energy demands of Bitcoin miners have led to blackouts in places like Iran and Kazakhstan. However, Bitcoin advocates, including Governor Greg Abbott and Senator Ted Cruz, have said that crypto mining operations will strengthen the Texas network.

In a purely theoretical sense, Bitcoin could operate with a sensitive network such as that operated by ERCOT. In this ideal world, mining centers would operate only when demand is low, consuming the additional electricity generated by power plants, and would shut down when demand increases.

“If they were all online tomorrow, they would add a lot of demand to the ERCOT network,” said Joshua Rhodes, research associate at the University of Texas. “However, for most of the year, not all of our power plants are running all the time. That argument about strengthening the network is actually based on the fact that [los mineros] be willing to be flexible. “

While Texas politicians are not currently working on any warrant for mining centers to close during peak demand, there could be market-based solutions. Rhodes has served as an advisor to a Texas-based company that develops software to help mining centers respond in real time to ERCOT’s demands for energy reduction. The software works with what is known in ERCOTspeak as a controllable load resource, which refers to a large power consumer who says they are willing to go without power for a certain price at peak times. Controllable load resources have traditionally been large manufacturers, such as oil refineries and petrochemicals, but the company Rhodes worked with and a couple of other data and mining centers have started working on the ERCOT system as load resources. Financial incentives for not using energy under this system, Rhodes said, could be high enough to motivate miners to heed ERCOT’s needs.

“I believe that [los mineros de Bitcoin] they can be good neighbors. There are ways to be. They have to choose if they want to be “

.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.