Fri. Dec 3rd, 2021

An employee installs a new line of bitcoin mining machines at the Huinstone US Bitcoin Mining Facility in Rockdale, Texas on October 9, 2021.

An employee installs a new line of bitcoin mining machines at the Huinstone US Bitcoin Mining Facility in Rockdale, Texas on October 9, 2021.
Pictures: Mark Felix / AFP (Getty Images)

Everything is big in Texas – with problems Electric grid And Energy demand for bitcoin. A New analysis shows that the power grid is just as vulnerable to the crisis as it was before the February blackout. The state is preparing to welcome cryptocurrency operations that will add a lot of pressure to that grid. And, experts say, there is no telling what could happen.

A Report Published Friday By ERCOT, The company that manages Texas’ electric grid, The extreme weather that finds-even less severe than the state saw in February যার caused a Massive blackout-Still still trigger energy Distraction And create Problems for The grid has ERCOT Done Through the ringer After the February crisis, however, this analysis, Critics say, Evidence that the biggest problems with how ERCOT prepares for the extreme have not been fixed In other words, Despite Promises from politicians like Governor Greg Abbott That they solved the problems, the Texas grid was as badly prepared for the disaster as it was in February.

And there’s a new pressure on this already-fragile grid: Bitcoin miners, whose state is enthusiastically encouraging them to settle in Texas. Bloomberg Report That demands new energy Crypto mining The next two in Texas could reach about 5,000 megawatts Year: The annual electricity demand for all is almost double Austin in 2020. This means that the shiny old grid By the end of next year, 20% of the world’s bitcoin networks could be home, up from 8 to 10 percent Now Texas is at the top of a huge push in the United States States and Cities Looking for To tempt Crypto mining Operation, follow a Crackdown in China This summer. T.He is US Now the # 1 destination for Bitcoin miners.

Suddenly double identity The price of electricity in an entirely major metropolitan city Struggle that claims a grid Under normal circumstances can seem like a dangerous The idea, especially how power is given Claim Bitcoin has led to places like blackouts from miners Iran And Kazakhstan. In contrast, Bitcoin defenders, including Governor Greg Abbott and everyone’s favorite Sen. Ted Cruz, Said That crypto mining operation will strengthen the Texas grid.

In purely theoretical sense, bitcoin Can Work with a sensitive grid like an ERCOT operates. This Ideal world, mining centers will only work when demand is low, using excess electricity Produced by the power plant, and will be shut down if demand increases.

“If they all came online tomorrow, you’d add huge demand to the ERCOT grid,” said Joshua Rhodes, a research associate at T.He is the University of Texas. “However, for most of the year, not all of our power plants are open all the time. That argument depends on if they are really talking about strengthening the grid [miners] I want to be flexible. “

While Texas politicians are not currently working on an order to close the mining centers during peak demand, a market-based solution may be possible. Rhodes has served as an advisor Texas-based company developing software To help mining centers respond in real-time ERCOT claims to reduce power. The software works with what is known as ERCOTspeak As a controllable load resource, which refers to a large power consumer who says he is willing to do it No. Use energy for a certain value at maximum. Controlled Load Resources Traditionally large manufacturers such as oil and petrochemical refineries, but the company has worked with Rhodes Other mining and data centers have begun operating on ERCOT systems as load resources. Financial incentives for No. Using energy under this system, Rhodes said, could be high enough to motivate miners to listen to ERCOT’s demands.

“I think so [bitcoin] May be good neighbors. There is a way out of this, “he said. “It’s up to them to decide.”

Alex de Vries, a data scientist who founded and operated the cryptocurrency website Digiconomist Bitcoin is an indicator of energy consumption, More skeptical about how it can play in real life.

“Shutting down at any time is not attractive for a miner, especially since machines become obsolete relatively quickly,” he said. “Whenever they stop, they miss a level of profit. Which never comes back. If they want to be effectively competitive with the rest of the field, the only option is to run their machines 24/7. “

And the financial incentive to shut down, like a controllable load resource program, may not be attractive enough for most miners to agree to voluntarily power down, said De Vries.

“In all cases, continuing is more profitable than closing for a mine,” he said. “Even if they pay extra to shut down, it is still more profitable to operate the machine. In Texas, they can get more money for closing than anywhere else, but it still remains unpleasant. “

What happened last February, and how ERCOT originally acknowledged that the grid is still in a bad place, de Vries said the only way for Texas regulators to ensure bitcoin demand doesn’t overwhelm the system is to control how much power. Miners can use something that used to be in crypto-friendly places like Quebec Begins to do After they saw the growing demand. (Texas responded to the blackoutDon’t keep, though Your breath.)

“When it goes wrong, it’s already too late,” de Vries said. “They are taking risks [increased demand]. It can literally cost lives. “

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