‘There’s a lot less land to go around’ — why White Rock established off-the-grid mining in Texas
Amid many cryptocurrency mining firms in Texas scaling down operations to reduce the load on the power grid, at least one company set up miners not quite as affected by the state’s energy requirements during extreme heat.
In June, White Rock Management expanded its crypto mining operations to Texas — its first in the United States — but reported its facility in the Brazos Valley region would mine Bitcoin (BTC) using “environmentally responsible” methods. While the firm’s mining operations in Sweden used hydroelectric power, White Rock CEO Andy Long told Cointelegraph that its Texas facility was “off grid”, powered only by natural gas that would otherwise be burned.
“The U.S. is where the action is in terms of markets, so we plan to be in at least another couple of states as well as Texas with some diversified offering — it won’t all be off grid,” said Long.
The White Rock CEO said major storm systems capable of knocking out power supplies — of which Texas has had no shortage in the crypto era — played a role in the company’s decision to rely on flared gas for mining, but said it would explore “a mixture of different power sources” as it expanded to different U.S. states, including hydroelectric and nuclear. According to Long, the Texas facility would have a 10-megawatt capacity “in the next month or two” and had already passed a total hashrate of 1 exahash per second.
New York was a less appealing option for White Rock to first expand to the U.S. given the regulatory environment was “sending the wrong message,” according to Long. State lawmakers have pushed for legislation that would ban proof-of-work mining.
“As soon as you start to say to energy companies ‘oh, you can do this with your power, but not this’, then they’ll start to tell you which networks you can mine, or you can mine this coin but not that coin. We would rather create a welcome environment for investment and regulatory certainty — that’s one of the things we like about Texas.”
Did you hear? White Rock Management launched our first U.S. #bitcoin mining operations in Texas’ Brazos Valley region. Learn more about this initiative: https://t.co/rfDctpI6qn pic.twitter.com/NQ3XpU0Fi8
— White Rock Management (@whiterockmngmnt) July 11, 2022
Texas is home to many crypto mining firms including Core Scientific, Riot Blockchain, and Argo Blockchain, all of which announced in July they would voluntarily scale back operations at the request of the state’s energy grid operator, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas. Low winds reducing the energy production from the state’s turbines as well as the need for electricity to run air conditioners caused concerns demand could surpass the available power supply.
“I think it’s good practice for miners to provide that demand response,” said Long. “It’s not really going to hurt their earnings […] it’s a good example of the grid and miners working together.”
The White Rock CEO added that due in part to the energy crisis in Europe as many countries attempt to stop relying on natural gas and oil from Russia, sites suitable for crypto mining were “getting harder to find” with cheap power:
“A year ago, even two years ago, you could find pretty cheap power in a lot of places and it wasn’t that hard to find good sites and to deploy large amounts of miners. What’s changed is everybody’s doing orders of magnitude more of hardware and there’s a lot less land to go around […] I think also the owners and the operators, the utilities companies they’re looking for larger companies that they know can rely on to pay their power bill.”