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High resolution modeling and analysis of cryptocurrency mining’s impact on power grids: Carbon footprint, reliability, and electricity price

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Journal Article

Menati, Ali, Xiangtian Zheng, Kiyeob Lee, Ranyu Shi, Pengwei Du, Chanan Singh, and Le Xie. 2023. “High Resolution Modeling and Analysis of Cryptocurrency Mining’s Impact on Power Grids: Carbon Footprint, Reliability, and Electricity Price.” Advances in Applied Energy 10 (June): 100136. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.adapen.2023.100136.

Blockchain technologies are considered one of the most disruptive innovations of the last decade, enabling secure decentralized trust-building. However, in recent years, with the rapid increase in the energy consumption of blockchain-based computations for cryptocurrency mining, there have been growing concerns about their sustainable operation in electric grids. This paper investigates the tri-factor impact of such large loads on carbon footprint, grid reliability, and electricity market price in the Texas grid. We release open-source high-resolution data to enable high-resolution modeling of influencing factors such as location and flexibility. We reveal that the per-megawatt-hour carbon footprint of cryptocurrency mining loads across locations can vary by as much as 50% of the crude system average estimate. We show that the flexibility of mining loads can significantly mitigate power shortages and market disruptions that can result from the deployment of mining loads. These findings suggest policymakers to facilitate the participation of large mining facilities in wholesale markets and require them to provide mandatory demand response.

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