Bitcoin development giant Blockstream and Jack Dorsey’s fintech venture Block (formerly Square) are breaking ground on an off-grid solar-powered Bitcoin facility in West Texas.
Announcing the project at the Bitcoin 2022 conference in Miami, Blockstream chief exec Adam Back said the $12 million project is intended to be a “proof of concept” for 100% renewable Bitcoin mining.
Back, whose Haschcash anti-spamming system is incorporated into the Bitcoin mining process, said: “This is a step to proving our thesis that Bitcoin mining can fund zero-emission power infrastructure and build economic growth for the future,” (via CNBC, our emphasis).
The unspecified location will draw power from Tesla’s Megapack 12- Megawatt (MW) rechargeable batteries which in turn will store solar power generated by a 3.8MW photovoltaics (solar panel) farm.
“You’re making a sort of calculation of the optimal economic mix between solar and battery,” Back explained.
“There’s 3.8MW of solar and one MW of mining, so you can see you have to over-provision, because the peak solar input varies during the day and, of course, it’s not there at night.”
Texas governor could use an off-grid solar Bitcoin mining farm
According to Back, onlookers will be able to see, in real-time, Bitcoin being mined with its solar power by a publicly accessible dashboard detailing the power output and BTC return. The Blockstream head hopes it will encourage more outfits to join their solar efforts.
Indeed, traditional Bitcoin mining places a heavy burden on local infrastructure. Replacing them with off-grid, solar-powered alternatives could be welcome in a state like Texas — it faced a particularly tough time last year due to unexpected strain on its power grid, thanks to an uptick in Bitcoin mining outfits.
Facing re-election last summer, Governor Greg Abbott campaigned on the belief that more mining could inspire energy companies to build more power plants in the state.
“Texas is open for crypto business,” Abbott tweeted in June, after crypto-friendly legislation passed. Only, the influx of mining firms left Texas’ power grid struggling. Residents were urged to curb their energy use — particularly air-conditioning.
After the unexpectedly warm weather waned, Abbott feared similar strains in the winter. The governor reportedly pleaded with local miners to help Texans get through the cold snap by switching off their machines should the grid begin to fail amid high demand. Only two firms reportedly agreed.
That February, a struggling grid left millions without power for days, with hundreds dead.
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