Riot Blockchain’s Texas Mining Operations Disrupted by Winter Storms

The cryptocurrency mining company Riot Platforms, previously known as Riot Blockchain, has announced that 17,040 rigs that were installed at its facilities in Texas have been rendered inoperable as a result of the “extreme winter weather” that has been experienced in Texas.

Riot said in a press release dated February 6 that two of the buildings of its Whinstone plant located in Rockdale, Texas were damaged in December as a result of the subzero conditions that the state endured for many days. From the 22nd through the 25th of December, temperatures plummeted below freezing in numerous areas of Texas as well as the rest of the United States.

According to Riot’s Chief Executive Officer Jason Les, “certain pieces of pipe in Buildings F and G were damaged during the severe winter storms that hit Texas in late December.” “It is likely that we will miss our previously declared aim of attaining 12.5 in total hash rate capacity in the first quarter of 2023 due to the harm that has been caused,” said the company.

According to Les, the damages caused an initial decrease in the facility’s hash rate capacity of 2.5 EH/s. However, when repairs were made, the business was able to return 0.6 EH/s to the facility. As of the 31st of January, the business Riot claimed creating 740 Bitcoin (BTC), which had a value of around $17 million at the time of publishing. Riot announced that there were 82,656 rigs operating with a hash rate capacity of 9.3 EH/s at that time.

Even though significant temperature reductions occurred in many regions of the United States in December due to increased travel over the holiday season, major towns in Texas such as Dallas and Austin were hit by a significant ice storm in early February. As a result of the weight of the accumulated ice, numerous tree branches and limbs collapsed, which caused damage to power lines, automobiles, and roadways, leaving thousands of inhabitants without access to electricity.

It is unknown if miners at Riot were impacted in a similar manner by the storm. Despite this, the firm did not disclose any reductions in operations as a result of the strain that the recent freeze placed on the electricity system in Texas.

Additionally, throughout the month of January, Riot reported selling 700 BTC for around $13.7 million. As of the 31st of January, the business had a total of 6,978 BTC. After the record-breaking heat wave that swept over the Lone Star State in July of 2017, the mining company reported selling coins.

During same month, Riot said that it intended to relocate a significant number of its mining rigs from a location in New York to one in Texas in an attempt to lower the company’s operational expenditures. Riot stock ended trading on the Nasdaq the same day it was released at $6.68, down 2.3%.


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White House Suggests Banning Proof-Of-Work Crypto

The White House Office of Science and Technology released a report on Thursday urging the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Energy (DOE) to take measurable actions to control high energy consumption by crypto mining proof-of-work mechanism.

The report is among the first responses to US President Joe Biden’s executive order on cryptocurrencies.

The document acknowledges that cryptocurrency technologies use a high amount of electricity that contributes to greenhouse gas emissions, additional pollution, noise and other local impacts.

The first section of the report, which serves as an introduction, hints toward banning proof-of-work cryptocurrency mining operations if regulatory action fails to enable the country to achieve its climate goals.

“Should these measures prove ineffective at reducing impacts, the Administration should explore executive actions, and Congress might consider legislation, to limit or eliminate the use of high energy intensity consensus mechanisms for crypto-asset mining,” the report said.

The next part of the document explores the impact of crypto mining on national electrical grids. The White House’s Science and Technology team claims that Bitcoin mining, powered by a proof-of-work consensus mechanism, adds stress on the power grid that results in cases of blackouts, fire hazards, and equipment deterioration. According to the report, Bitcoin mining has raised the average electricity cost for local consumers.

“Depending on the energy intensity of the technology used, crypto-assets could hinder broader efforts to achieve net-zero carbon pollution consistent with U.S. climate commitments and goals,” the report elaborated.

The final section of the report suggested ways in which Bitcoin mining can benefit efforts toward achieving U.S. climate goals. The report advocated for the responsible development of digital assets and solutions to drastically reduce crypto energy consumption.

The report recommended the use of the “less energy-intensive consensus mechanism, called Proof of Stake (PoS), which is considered to consume less than 0.001% of global electricity usage.

The White House also encouraged crypto miners to consider using electricity generated from vented and flared methane at oil and gas wells and landfills as another viable alternative. 

Why Is the White House Taking an Interest?

In March, U.S. President Biden signed an executive order, calling on the government to examine the risks and benefits of crypto assets.

The measures focused on six key areas like consumer protection, financial inclusion, financial stability, U.S. competitiveness, illicit activity, and responsible innovation.

The executive order was a kind of a ‘call to action’ that laid out a series of policy statements, such as the need to protect consumers, investors, and businesses in the US, as well as the need to support technological advances that promote responsible development and use of digital assets.

The executive order expected a set of reports coordinated through the interagency process from a broad range of executive branch stakeholders.

Image source: Shutterstock


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Green and gold: The crypto projects saving the planet

It seems as though the potential benefits of cryptocurrency are often overshadowed by the technology’s inherent vulnerability to exploitation. 

And it’s true, crypto adoption does come with risks. Over the past year, governments from around the world have raised concerns that crypto could be used to finance terrorism or other illicit activity like money laundering. There have been prohibitive measures everywhere from China to Nigeria, with many crypto exchanges forced into a legislative chokehold. 

While crypto has its challenges, it has also become a tool for policymakers and activists wanting to make the world a better place. 

The climate crisis 

During 2021, public scrutiny of Bitcoin (BTC) energy-intensive mining practices dominated headlines all year long — and for good reason. According to Digiconomist, Bitcoin mining consumes a similar amount of energy to an entire small country like the Netherlands or the Philippines.

However, many environmental activists are already using the very same technology as a tool in the fight against climate change. For example, smart token contracts have allowed charitable institutions to raise funds in a way never seen before.

Many of these “charity tokens” have a tax system that charges a fee with every transaction, which can then be wired to a charity of choice. For example, the World of Waves (WOW) token is on a mission to restore the planet’s oceans and combat climate change. 

The project has a transactional tax of 11% that is redistributed back to all holders, 3.3% to the liquidity pool and 4.4% to the WOW charity wallet. As the charity wallet grows, funds are extracted monthly for donations towards nature conservation activities and the preservation of wildlife. According to the project’s Twitter page, over $49,000 has already been donated. WOW chief operating officer Kristijan Tot told Cointelegraph:

“It’s all about making a positive impact on causes around the world while shining the spotlight on NGOs and creators.”

In this way, charitable giving is hardwired into the token’s underlying algorithm. Not only that but holders are also incentivized to invest and stay invested in the project. 

WOW isn’t the only crypto project using this type of technology to raise funds for an environmental cause. 

Solarcoin distributes tokens as a reward to people who install solar arrays in their homes or businesses. The theory is that when the price of the coin exceeds the energy production cost, solar will effectively become free. The project’s website states:

“As of today, cryptocurrencies are worth over US$2 trillion. Most of that value was distributed in exchange for carbon-intensive crypto mining. What if it was given out to people who produced energy for free?”

Black Lives Matter

Of course, environmental conservation isn’t the only issue crypto projects have attempted to tackle over the past year. In June, the world watched in outrage as George Floyd was murdered by a police officer. His death sparked renewed momentum for the Black Lives Matter movement — and no shortage of controversy in the crypto community. 

As previously reported by Cointelegraph, a group attempted to cash in on the turmoil by releasing a George Floyd token, a project rife with shaky tokenomics and an unclear payment system. It was also reported that a person attended the protests holding a sign claiming “Bitcoin will save us.”

Despite the obvious bad taste of these isolated instances, the wider community mainly rallied for the cause. For example, the Giving Block introduced a solution for their users to specifically donate to nonprofits supporting the Black Lives Matter movement such as the Chicago Community Bond Fund, Movement for Black Lives and the Bail Project. 

Back in 2020, the crypto fundraising platform partnered with Gitcoin to launch its #CryptoForBlackLives campaign. Initially, Gitcoin matched donations up to $25,000 through a community grant. However, that tally was boosted to over $100,000 by the campaign’s completion.

Black activists have also worked tirelessly to ensure their communities are able to benefit from the monetary gains that crypto has to offer. Founder and lead engineer of Guapcoin (GUAP) Taviona Evans says that her platform was able to accomplish more in 2021 than any year prior. GUAP was created to help close the wealth gap in Black communities and support Black-owned businesses in the United States. She told Cointelegraph:

“We’ve sparked awareness about crypto among a population with less access and education in crypto and finance — and we continue to do so.”

Improving healthcare 

Another area of charitable giving where crypto projects have made a difference this year has been healthcare and mental health. In 2021, the health of many people around the world suffered immensely as the COVID-19 pandemic continued to spread. 

Perhaps one of the more unexpected results of the coronavirus was its profound effect on crypto and blockchain, which can be traced to the pandemic’s genesis in late 2019. 

From Australia to Mexico, blockchain technology is already being used to verify the authenticity of COVID-19 test results and vaccination certificates. 

A number of crypto funds and tokens have also emerged to support communities around the world that have suffered from outbreaks of the virus. In April this year, Polygon co-founder Sandeep Nailwal created the COVID-Crypto Relief Fund as a crushing second wave of the virus tore through his home country of India.

The fund was able to raise a whopping $429.59 million by mid-October, with Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin, Australia cricketer Brett Lee and Coinbase chief technology officer Balaji Srinivasan among its contributors.

Is crypto a force for social good or bad?

If there has ever been a year to prove that crypto is truly morally agnostic, it was 2021. Around the world, the same technology used to finance terrorism was also used to fund healthcare amid the COVID-19 pandemic. While the world argued about the impact that energy-intensive BTC mining projects have on the environment, others created crypto projects and tokens to save our planet.

As we move into 2022, whether crypto is a force for good or bad remains in the eyes of the holder.