During the recent winter storm in Texas, Bitcoin miners returned enough electricity to power approximately 1.5 million homes, as reported by Satoshi Action on January 5th. This excess energy was able to provide warmth to residents who were experiencing power outages and freezing temperatures.
The Bitcoin mining industry has often been criticized for its high energy consumption, but this incident demonstrates that Bitcoin miners can make a positive impact in times of crisis.
According to the President of the Texas Blockchain Council, Bitcoin miners in the state returned up to 1,500 megawatts of electricity to the grid during the winter storm, enough to power approximately 1.5 million homes or keep 300 hospitals fully operational.
During the winter storm in Texas, companies like Riot, CoreScientific, and Lancium reduced their power consumption to help ratepayers and grid operators, the President said. This ability to decrease energy usage during storms can improve the stability and resilience of the grid in Texas and other states.
The President further asserts that Bitcoin miners in other states also returned excess energy to the grid during the polar vortex. It is possible that more states will consider adopting Bitcoin mining due to its ability to enhance reliability during extreme weather events.
ERCOT’s New Tool At Its Disposal, “Bitcoin Mining”
According to Satoshi Action’s report, in December 2022, Texas experienced another severe winter storm. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) has taken steps to strengthen the grid in order to prevent a repeat of the disaster that occurred in February 2021.
According to the report:
In February 2021, Texas experienced one of the most costly and deadly winter storms in the state’s history. Over 5 million homes lost power, and up to 706 people lost their lives due to the storm, which also incurred over $10 billion in debt.
However, ERCOT had a new tool at its disposal, Bitcoin mining. In June 2021, China banned Bitcoin mining, causing many miners to look for a new location. Many of these miners ended up in Texas, attracted by the state’s cheap energy and programs that allow customers to participate in the grid.
These programs, known as ancillary services, pay customers to reduce their energy consumption during peak demand in order to stabilize the grid. Bitcoin miners are particularly well-suited to participate in these programs, as they are able to reduce their peak load capacity by up to 97% for an unlimited amount of time.
During the winter storm in December 2022, data showed that miners were able to reduce their power consumption when it was needed most. The hashrate of Bitcoin mining, a measure of all the computation occurring on the Bitcoin network, dropped by more than 30% as the polar vortex hit Texas and the Midwest.
This flexibility is one reason why mining is such an important customer for grids across the US. While other industries, such as Amazon or Google, would experience significant service interruptions if a similar proportion of their data centers went offline, the Bitcoin network is not affected by temporary, regional outages.
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