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The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), a nonprofit corporation that oversees regional organizations that support energy reliability, has released its annual long-term reliability assessment of the United States electrical grid. It identified large portions of the United States and Canada as high- or elevated-risk areas for energy reliability. Those areas included Texas, where the cryptocurrency mining industry is seeking to expand.
Both development and demand are rising “faster than at any time in the past five or more years.” New projects are being planned at a rate that challenges operator management, and the industry of facing pressure from mounting demands for energy and on transmission system adequacy, the report said.
The key to understanding these NERC assessments is that they’re reliant on self-reported data by the utilities. SERC to NERC: “All’s fine down here!” SERC to PSC’s: “our load growd by 6.6 gw and we need more power or we’ll have blackouts in 2026”. https://t.co/zELmhSpKjg pic.twitter.com/otav1mnezf
— Simon Mahan (@SimonMahan) December 14, 2023
The situation is complicated by the Environmental Protection Agency’s policies meant to reduce carbon emissions, the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association NRECA) said in a comment on the report. NRECA CEO Jim Matheson said:
“NERC’s latest assessment paints another grim picture of our nation’s energy future as demand for electricity soars and the supply of always-available generation declines. […] Absent a major shift in state and federal energy policy, this is the reality we will face for years to come.”
Nine states saw rolling blackouts in December 2022, Mateson added.
Crypto mining plays a unique role in the mix, the report stated. It is capable of flexibility in its operations and can also move or shut down as energy prices vary. This can be a challenge to energy providers’ planning and development.
Texas grid operator Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) has approved planning studies for grid connection for 9 gigawatts (GW) of power and is considering requests for 41 GW more. One gigawatt can power almost 700,000 households for a year, according to one estimate.