Winter is coming, and with that means a shifting of demands for power and a reshuffling of power generation capacity. During the coldest months of the year the northern hemisphere receives less direct sunlight and shorter daylight hours, making winter a literal cold season for solar generation. With marked difficulty on infrastructure that is not weatherized to handle what the Iowan in me would call a “normal winter.”
This means insulation for pipelines to prevent freezing and the formation of ice crystals – you’d be surprised at how much water can be found when things start freezing. Also meaning a need for hydraulic fluid of a lighter weight that is intended to handle cold weather and maintain its viscosity for lubrication & pressure distribution functions. Or o-rings/packings of a different density or polymer that prevents excess shrinkage in response to cold temperatures; preventing leaks and loss of pressure. As well as factoring in which portions of equipment are receiving direct exposure to the elements versus insulation. This was a common problem being an aircraft hydraulics specialist for the Army in Iowa and then deploying to the Middle East; entire inventories and operating equipment must be retooled to the environment one will be operating in.
This can result in increased strain on independent service operators (ISOs) like ERCOT. But this strain is placed on ERCOT only when the individual power generation and distribution operators are not properly prepared. I do not know how well prepared the ERCOT grid has gotten since Winter Storm Uri, but with the continued complications in shipping and fulfillment of late, I would say it’s safest to assume that not all will be prepared for a potentially bitter winter to come. Meaning that ISOs like ERCOT should be preparing strategies now to have power redistribution ready where and when it is needed to avoid the catastrophes that follow an abnormal winter weather event on an unprepared grid.
“The best defense is a good offense.”
Pierre Rochard posted a presentation discussing how bitcoin miners can service ERCOT by providing ancillary efforts, but that is only the tip of the iceberg.
In May of 2023 I wrote up a concept for Simply Bitcoin detailing how power distribution infrastructure stands to benefit from the defensive auspices that bitcoin mining can yield. This approach utilizes an offensive strategy in expanding grid reliability by swelling power demand with perpetual & flexible load.
By utilizing bitcoin miners we can have peaker plants and broad power generation facilities essentially “warmed up” and already providing flow of electrons and molecules to the effect that when winter weather demand strikes the only course of action is redirecting flow. Bitcoin miners are positioned to shoulder this burden better than any other industry today as they can shutdown and power on in a fraction of the time compared to other operations. Allowing bitcoin miners to act as the vanguard in grid balancing rather than relying on industries such as metallurgy (which impacts far more moving parts downstream than a bitcoin miner curtailing).
Let’s not forget the added benefits of capturing and redistributing the heat produced by ASICs. There are plenty of plebs on the Twittersphere (I will not ever be calling the app “X”) that are utilizing capture strategies from home mining operations to produce heating for laundry machines, water heaters, etc. When money is on the line, and defending expensive infrastructure is necessary, no strategy should be discounted. Especially when it’s freely provided through normal operations.
This is grid infrastructure provided by bitcoin mining. This is a national defense matter.
This is a guest post by Mike Hobart. Opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.