As you may recall, late last year we reported on a secret mega battery project that Tesla was building in the state of Texas. Tesla was secretly working on a previously undisclosed construction of a gigantic battery that would be connected to Texas’ ailing grid. The 100-megawatt energy storage project is located in Angleton, Texas, and the battery has the capacity to power about 20,000 homes on a hot summer day.
Now we learn that this isn’t the only solar project Tesla is working on. It turns out that Tesla has another 3.8-megawatt solar PV plant and a 12-megawatt-hour Megapack plant in Texas. According to a new report from CNBC, Blockstream and Jack Dorsey’s Block, formerly Square, are working on a new solar and battery-powered Bitcoin mine in Texas that will use Tesla solar and storage technology.
The announcement is part of Block’s plan, announced late last year, to build an open-source, custom-silicon-based, open-source bitcoin mining system for individuals and businesses worldwide. In a series of tweets, Jack said Square will follow its hardware wallet model. Jack added that the new bitcoin mining system will be openly built in collaboration with the community.
Speaking to CNBC on the sidelines of the Bitcoin 2022 conference in Miami, Blockstream co-founder and CEO Adam Back, a British cryptographer and member of the “Cypherpunk” crew, told CNBC that the mining rig was designed as proof of concept for Bitcoin mining at scale using 100% renewable energy.
“People like to discuss the different factors involved in bitcoin mining. We thought let’s just prove it. Have an open dashboard so people can play along, maybe it can inform other players to participate,” Back said.
“This is a step towards proving our thesis that bitcoin mining can fund zero-emission energy infrastructure and build economic growth for the future,” Back said. “You get this perfect overlap with both the sun quality and the wind speed in West Texas,” said Shaun Connell, executive vice president of power at Houston-based technology company Lancium.
West Texas has been known as the mecca of renewable energy in the United States for many years. However, due to a lack of financial incentives, many companies see no reason to build renewable infrastructure to harness this abundant energy.
This is where bitcoin miners come in. Since China ousted Bitcoin miners from the country in 2021, many of those miners have been forced to relocate their operations to the United States. As we reported last year, a dozen Chinese bitcoin mining startups are moving from Guangzhou to Maryland, USA. Since then, many have moved to places like Texas where solar energy is plentiful.
According to CNBC, citing Castle Island Venture’s Nic Carter, many miners are also providing demand for these semi-stranded assets, making renewable energy commercially viable in Texas.
Back also told CNBC that the off-grid mine, which is expected to be completed later this year, highlights another key tenet of the Bitcoin network: miners are location-agnostic and can “do it from anywhere without local infrastructure.”
“They do a sort of calculation of the optimal economic mix between solar and battery,” Back said. “There’s 3.8 megawatts of solar power and one megawatt of mining, so you can see you need an oversupply as the maximum insolation varies during the day and of course isn’t there at night.”