Texas: A Bitcoin Miner’s Paradise?

Although the bitcoin craze has died down some since it rose to monumental values in 2017, there is still a booming industry in the cryptocurrency. For those who don’t know about the digital coinage, it and the blockchain technology it utilizes was not too long ago touted as the next big thing. 

Although intriguing and vastly practical for protecting user data, cybersecurity, and a wide range of manufacturing models, it has yet to reach a high level of utility for individuals.  But wide scale adoption of novel ideas take time, after all. 

Currently, one bitcoin is worth about $8,200 USD. That could change quickly because of the volatility of money. But to acquire bitcoins-more realistically, to acquire fractions of a bitcoin-means you have to “mine” them. As Jason Evangelho of Forbes states, mining for cryptocurrencies (like Bitcoin) means that you are using extremely powerful computers to solve math encryption problems that do two things:


  1. Miners verify a particular public record transaction by solving a difficult math problem (of sorts), which keeps the transaction anonymous through encryption.
  2. This “solved” math problem closes a “block”, which you can think of a node on a chain of other solved blocks- all of which are decentralized and unlikely to be hacked.

But what does all of this have to do with Texas? To put it simply, mining for bitcoins requires a lot of computer power to close off blocks, which in turn means a lot of electricity is needed to power the mining of even just a fraction of a bitcoin. But because Texas has some of the cheapest electricity available, a lot of entrepreneurs are flocking to Texas to develop a Bitcoin empire of sorts.

Layer1 and Bitmain

The entrepreneur and billionaire Peter Thiel is investing 200 million in a Bitcoin venture from Layer1, which will be located. West Texas. Giving credit where credit is due when considering electrical usage, the entire project will aim to harness all-renewable energy to generate electricity and power necessary for the cooling of the ultra-powerful mining computers. 

Another company, Bitmain, is posed to take over Rockdale, Texas as well. The Chinese cryptocurrency hardware manufacturer will produce what they’re calling the largest bitcoin mining facility ever.

But despite these installments, there’s definitely a bright point to the excessive electricity consumption that large bitcoin mining installations will pose. After all, projects like Layer1 and Bitmain could be a solution to natural gas flaring

“Flaring”, or burning off of excess gas, is what producers do when there is a surplus. This practice is obviously not good for the environment and bitcoin miners can use the surplus natural gas that would already go to waste and power their powerful computers.

But bitcoin is not exactly a viable strategy for everyone. Just ask the inhabitants of Rockdale, Texas, who all had high hopes for new jobs to be created when Bitmain arrived, only to be disappointed when only about 30 would become available. 

Regardless, things are shaping up to be interesting in Texas as the bitcoin mining industry continues to expand. 

 Is the New Green Deal Right for Texas?

Because there has not been a comprehensive approach to dealing with climate change and its long-term ramifications for the environment, activists recently proposed what they dubbed as the Green New Deal as solution for our uphill battle with increased emissions.

As Vox describes the GND, “It refers, in the loosest sense, to a massive program of investments in clean-energy jobs and infrastructure, meant to transform not just the energy sector, but the entire economy.”

With Texas leading the way in wind energy and continually pushing for more renewables, the Lonestar State seems to be the perfect litmus test for the viability of the GND. Naturally, there are political polarizations and opinions that measure just how realistic a Green New Deal is. 

Green New Deal Naysayers

As Jason Isaac of The Cleburne Times Review says though, the GND could mean an extra $12,000 added to the average Texan’s electricity bill. He says that “getting renewables from 8% to 100% of our electric generation nationwide isn’t a problem of politics, but of scale and physics.” Simply put, Isaac says that America does not have enough land (realistically) to accommodate the 5 million acres of wind turbines, solar panels, and battery storage that it would take to get the U.S. 100% renewable. Additionally, a higher percentage of electric vehicle owners will also drive electricity demand up, meaning prices will rise as well.

Mark Whittington of the Washington Examiner believes that those who campaign for the widely unrealistic Green New Deal will lose their credibility in the political race. He suggests avoiding the full-scale liquidation of the fossil fuel industry and instead backing net-zero plants like the one in La Porte, Texas


Green New Deal ‘Yay’sayers

There are more optimistic champions of the GND though. Amal Ahmed of the Texas Observer thinks that the GND can flourish in Texas because of the state’s recent success and large scale adoption of renewables.

Ahmed reminds readers that Texas originally had the modest (but at the time ambitious) goal of producing 10,000 megawatts of energy that would make it to the grid. Let’s just say that in 2018, Texas produced over 75,000 megawatt hours of power. That’s quite impressive and an example of how the seemingly impossible can turn plausible with the right minds and manpower behind the job. 

While keeping the mind that vast amounts of political and economical support that a successfully enacted GND will need, the climate can only benefit from the spotlight, even if the outcome is much less impressive than proponents of the GND would like to achieve. 

Overall, if the Green New Deal is ever approved by Congress, Texas will be the most likely candidate for leading the green revolution. If not, the state will keep investing in renewable energy regardless, and by extension, relieve some of the burden of climate change.