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mining operations in Texas have resumed amid record temperatures sweeping across parts of the United States and Europe.
Following a request from the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) on July 10, Bitcoin miners in Texas voluntarily curtailed operations to relieve pressure on the power grid.
"It's important to manage the grid where you are," Romain Nouzareth, cofounder, chairman, and CEO of Bitcoin mining firm SATO, told Decrypt in an interview.
"We strive for performance, and we get it from clean energy, and from the way we manage our computers to make them perform doing one thing—putting our digital property in stone, every ten minutes," he said.
Nouzareth noted that while most Bitcoin mining operations connect to the local power grid, many use alternative energy sources like wind and hydropower.
— ERCOT (@ERCOT_ISO) July 11, 2022
Texas Bitcoin miners suspended mining operations after the state decided to conserve energy, Nouzareth said, adding that it's extremely beneficial to Bitcoin miners worldwide to manage peak loads of electricity through curtailment.
Curtailment is the deliberate reduction in output below optimum production to balance energy supply and demand or to address transmission or demand constraints. In the case of Bitcoin miners in Texas, load curtailment is the removal or reduction of electrical loads for a limited time from a utility grid system in response to a request from the utility or electrical grid system operator.
According to Argo Blockchain CEO Peter Wall, sixteen firms operating in Texas curtailed operations and gave back around 1,000 megawatts of power to the grid, just over 1%.
"So just over 1% of the power being used was given back to make sure that there weren't brownouts," Wall said. "So there weren't any issues with supply not being able to meet demand."
Wall continued calling it the right thing to do, but also acknowledged economic incentives for curtailment such as saving on transmission charges in the subsequent year.
During the Bitcoin Mining Council’s second quarter of 2022 briefing, Wall said, "We're very happy to be set up there [in Texas], And one of the advantages is that there's a grid that allows miners to curtail and give power back to the grid."
Wall noted that it's common in renewable energy production to curtail energy depending on grid and market conditions.
"When you have a grid that uses a lot of renewables like Texas does—and Texas is the country's number one producer of wind [power]—you're always trying to manage supply and demand,” Wall said.
Bitcoin mining and energy concerns
The energy consumption of proof-of-work (PoW) blockchains like Bitcoin continues to concern critics.
The Bitcoin Mining Council, organized by MicroStrategy CEO Michael Saylor, was formed in June 2021 after Elon Musk said in May of that year that Tesla would no longer accept Bitcoin because of the "rapidly increasing use of fossil fuels for Bitcoin mining and transactions."
Members of the Bitcoin Mining Council include Argo Blockchain, Riot Blockchain, Galaxy Digital, and MicroStrategy. The group says it came together to promote transparency, share best practices, and educate the public on the benefits of Bitcoin and Bitcoin mining.
According to the Texas Blockchain Council, mining in the Lone Star State has taken off, with over 27 mining companies operating in Texas since Governor Greg Abbott opened the door earlier this year.
Even the city of Fort Worth, Texas, has gotten in on the action and launched a mining operation of its own in April.