Austin (KXAN) — Cryptocurrency mining is expected to grow significantly in Texas over the next five years, which can have a significant impact on the power grid.
According to ERCOT estimates, miners could use about 5 gigawatts of energy by 2023.
“It grew from near zero just a few years ago,” said Carry King, assistant director of the UT-Austin Energy Institute earlier this month.
“Each miner is about the same size as a desktop computer, and if you’re a large industrial Bitcoin miner, you could be running thousands of these computers,” Texas Block said. Chain Council Lee Bracher said.
Bratcher explained that Bitcoin mining is the process of protecting the Bitcoin network and how new Bitcoin will circulate.
“Simply put, Bitcoin miners are just machines. Their application-specific integrated circuits are … running hash algorithms and trying to solve crypto equations to set the next transaction block.” Bratcher said. “The blockchain is then validated and verified by other miners. And the node updates the ledger, which is a security mechanism to free the Bitcoin network from hacker attacks. And it’s the new Bitcoin. Is also a way to distribute. “
Bracher said the machine could be turned off at any time if the grid was overloaded with extreme weather conditions. This means that extra power can spike elsewhere.
“It’s okay to turn it off at any time. You can turn it off within 60 seconds,” he said.
Beyond his personal ethical question about cryptocurrencies, King said he saw only two issues regarding the increase in crypto mining in Texas.
“There is a short-term problem. It will raise prices to some extent. There is a long-term problem: will it incentive new types of generations to meet this new demand? Companies invest in more grids. Will it generate revenue so that it can be done? This should be decided, “King said.
Mr. Blatcher said the new miners are likely to be in more rural areas where “leftover energy” is often found. This is energy generated but not available due to the lack of power lines to transport electricity elsewhere in the state.
“There is excess wind energy in western Texas, and solar energy can’t reach densely populated areas in big cities like Dallas, Houston, and Austin because we don’t have enough transmission capacity at the right time.” Mr. Blatcher said.
Starting this spring, new industrial miners will need to apply for a permit to supply energy through the PUC that oversees ERCOT.
“Any upcoming miner will be loaded and approved by the utility and ERCOT. ERCOT is actually a huge advantage to the industry as it helps increase the reliability and resilience of the grid. There are these loads that you can turn off whenever you need them, “says Bracher.