With the state of Texas facing a rapid influx of bitcoin mining operations, its electrical infrastructure must meet the industry’s additional energy needs of 5,000 megawatts (MW) by 2023.
The bitcoin mining industry in Texas currently consumes around 500 to 1,000 MW of electricity. The Electrical Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) predicts demand could quintuple by 2023 and is reportedly planning another 3,000-5,000 MW.
This expansion comes as the Lone Star state plans to house 20% of the world’s Bitcoin mining. Texas has become a destination for bitcoin miners since the Chinese government officially banned bitcoin mining earlier this year.
The state government has taken advantage of China’s influence by making Texas a haven for crypto miners who can now enjoy 10 year tax breaks, sales tax credits, and employee training.
However, some Texas residents are concerned that the current network cannot be improved. ERCOT’s management of the state power grid was put to the test in February 2021, when the region was hit by blackouts at a time of extreme cold when around 5 million people were without electricity for many days.
A report by ERCOT from November 19 could not rekindle confidence in the removal of the network problems. Texas Observer reporter Amal Ahmed tweeted on November 22nd
“ERCOT’s new seasonal assessment report (essentially a forecast) seems to suggest that the agency has not changed its approach to actually preparing for extremes.”
Related: This Singapore tech company says it recycles 90% of the waste heat from Bitcoin mining
Some miners have tried to allay local residents’ fears about the potential for resource depletion. Texas Regular reported on October 21 that several Bitcoin miners were working with local electricity providers to ensure grid stability.
Meanwhile, some other fully renewable and potential alternative energy sources such as natural gas flares intend to use as BTC mining operations grow in popularity.
There is currently no proposal from the state of Texas government to address the potential problems that could arise from increasing demand for electricity from cryptocurrency miners. As suggested by the Texas Standard, miners have the flexibility to shut down their hardware during peak load times or pay a premium per kilowatt hour if they want to continue operating during peak load.