How Texas’ Extreme Weather Affects the Bitcoin Mining Industry
When most people think about what it takes to complete a bitcoin mining operation, the price of the digital asset or the availability of so-called mining rigs comes to mind.
The weather matters too.
In a recent episode From The Scoop, Marathon CEO Fred Thiel spoke about the logistics of Marathon’s new plant in West Texas, including how extreme weather affects miner productivity.
As Thiel explains, extreme temperatures in both directions have a direct impact on the energy demanded from the grid:
“If it’s 105 degrees in Austin, I bet there’s a lot of air conditioning running and it’s running 24/7 versus only between 4 and 9. And then, in the opposite weather conditions, when it’s really cold, people turn on their heaters.”
Yet in these times of extreme temperatures, Thiel says bitcoin mining operations can act as “power capacitors,” since miners are able to turn off their machines and supply the power they used to consume. directly to the network.
Marathon has a contract with the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) whereby its mining operations can be temporarily shut down if the grid needs more power:
“They can just interrupt us, then we shut down for an hour or 2 hours, whatever they need, then we come back online immediately. You can’t do that with food processing industries, you can’t do that with steel, you can’t do that with most manufacturing industries – it’s a unique symbiotic relationship that the extraction of bitcoins and the energy industry may have in this regard. ”
The impact of the weather manifested itself this week with high temperatures in Texas, leading to record energy consumption.
As The Block reports, many Bitcoin miners in the state have entered into agreements with ERCOT to shut down during peak power demand times. Proponents say that kind of flexibility can be a boon to the network.
Apart from fluctuations in power demand caused by temperature extremes, another way the weather affects bitcoin mining is related to the overheating of the machines themselves, as Thiel explained during the interview:
“Where the high heat affects the mining industry is when the temperature starts to hit 100 degrees… Then all of a sudden you have to start shutting down the miners just because they’re overheating.”
According to Product specifications on the Bitmain website.
While the Texas climate is a force to be reckoned with, the miners are still able to stay operational for most of the year, according to Thiel:
“When you balance it out over the year, you can most likely even with severe heat spikes and a reduction as a result of that, and then cold snaps in the winter, you’re still most likely over 90% of availablity.”
For more on Marathon’s bitcoin mining, listen to the Full episode now.
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