Bitcoin mining likely didn't contribute to Texas' power outages, says expert

Though many Texans are still suffering in the aftermath of a winter storm that left millions without power and running water for days, it’s unlikely that the crypto mining farms in the state played much of a role during the crisis.

Speaking to Cointelegraph, Kristy-Leigh Minehan, a mining consultant and chief technology officer of NEM Software, said Texas doesn’t currently have enough mining hardware in operation to cause significant problems in the power grid when compared with that of major regions like Sichuan.

According to Minehan, German Bitcoin (BTC) mining operator Northern Data is likely the only one that could have had a significant impact on the state’s power supply. The firm owns a mining farm in East Texas, with others like HODL Ranch and Layer1 out in West Texas. The mining expert added that the hashrate in Texas is not enough to disrupt the state’s energy grid, which includes farms that power their rigs using excess gas formed as a byproduct of mining oil.

Minehan said many of the mining farms in Texas are powered by a mix of renewables and coal. Though they are still dependent on the state’s energy grid, they also have access to generators when needed.

The effects of a disaster in Texas or the Southern United States on the Bitcoin hash rate are almost statistically insignificant when compared with one in China, whose miners control more than half the network’s hashing power. Minehan noted that the BTC hash rate only dropped roughly 10 exhashes per second during the recent snowstorm, which isn’t markedly more than the typical 5 EH/s fluctuations on a day-to-day basis. Blockchain data shows that the hash rate fell from 160 million TH/s on Feb. 11 to 150 million TH/s following the coldest night of the winter storm.

Minehan opined that it was unlikely for mining farms in North America to take the lead on the global hashrate without greater access to the hardware supply lines. She said a major industry player like Intel — with established supply chains — getting deeper into developing mining chips could potentially turn the tide, but right now it seems like China will remain the stronghold due to it having direct access to mining rig manufacturers and the silicon used for chips.