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Bitcoin miners look to software to help balance the Texas grid

Bitcoin miners look to software to help balance the Texas grid

Although Bitcoin (BTC) mining remains a controversial topic, it’s becoming more common to hear how Bitcoin mining can help balance grid demand. This is being demonstrated in the state of Texas, as Bitcoin miners are able to participate in demand response programs, which incentivize miners to turn off their operations during peak demand. 

A spokesperson from the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) — the organization that operates Texas’s electrical grid — told Cointelegraph that crypto loads can have impacts on the grid just like any large load. Yet, they noted that crypto miners can help stabilize the grid by shutting down their demand for electricity in real time:

“Crypto mining is extraordinarily responsive and can turn off in a fraction of a second and remain off as long as needed. We are working closely with the crypto mining industry and have established a large flexible load task force to make sure we move forward with the grid reliability and Texas load growth in mind.”

On March 25, ERCOT established an interim process to ensure that new large loads, such as Bitcoin miners, can be connected to the ERCOT grid. While evaluations for large load interconnections is not a new process, ERCOT explained that the timeline that most crypto miners operate under requires a new process to make sure existing standards for interconnecting new large loads are being met. ERCOT’s Technical Advisory Committee approved the creation of a “Large Flexible Load Task Force” on March 30 to aid in the development of a long-term process that will replace the current interim process.

Software providers want to help miners balance the grid

While it’s notable that ERCOT is helping Bitcoin miners connect to the Texas grid faster, software providers have also begun working with miners to ensure they have the tools needed to properly enable grid balancing. 

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Michael McNamara, co-founder and CEO of Lancium — a Texas-based energy and infrastructure company — told Cointelegraph during the Texas Blockchain Summit that in 2020 Lancium demonstrated how a Bitcoin mine could act as a controllable load:

“For loads to qualify as a controllable load resource in ERCOT, customers have to be able to do two things. First, they have to achieve a target power consumption level — either more or less — as directed by ERCOT in less than 15 seconds. Secondly, they should provide ‘primary frequency…

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