Bitcoin miners returned enough power to heat 1.5 million homes during Texas blizzard
After the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), an independent electricity provider to more than 26 million Texas customers, introduced the Interim Voluntary Load Curtailment program for Bitcoin (BTC) miners and other similar large load consumers, the cryptocurrency miners have risen to the occasion.
The program, implemented “during times of low or declining [Physical Responsive Capability (PRC)] after Non-Spinning Reserve Service has been deployed, but before [Emergency Response Service (ERS)] has been deployed,” demonstrated success during winter storm ‘Elliott’ in Texas, according to the ERCOT’s LFL Analysis published on February 17.
Crunching the numbers
As the report discovered, the Large Flexible Load (LFL) by these consumers during the winter storm decreased significantly during times of peak prices, and all of the 20 LFLs monitored “demonstrated a curtailment in load to some extent,” returning up to 1,500 MW of energy to the Texas grid.
According to the calculations made by the Bitcoin advocacy group called Satoshi Action Fund, this amount of energy would’ve been enough to heat “over 1.5 million small homes or keep 300 large hospitals fully operational” during the polar vortex that plunged the state of Texas into subzero temperatures in December 2022.
On top of that, six of these large consumers “curtailed their load for the entire duration of Elliott, independent of market prices,” whereas “the remaining 14 LFLs behaved in a manner which suggested they were responding to real-time prices,” the report said.
Miners ready to oblige
It is also important to note that Texas is home to a large number of Bitcoin miners that have been forced to relocate from China after its government banned Bitcoin mining in the country in June 2021, as part of its wide-reaching crackdown on all things crypto, originating in 2013.
Notably, the Texas miners also stepped up in the summer of 2022, when they heeded the grid operator’s pleas to consumers to reduce power usage during peak demand due to record-breaking high temperatures, with some of the miners, such as Riot Blockchain Inc., “significantly” profiting from suspending operations.
Meanwhile, ERCOT has also performed an analysis of how often the interim voluntary load curtailment program would have been called upon had it existed in 2022, and it is estimated that it would’ve been in effect for approximately nine hours for the entire year.