“Some folks think that bitcoin is just a scam,” Huffman concedes. The reality is, whatever its flaws, bitcoin’s success and fame thus far makes the whole crypto phenomenon harder to dislodge with every trading cycle. There have been disputes between miners and locals, bankruptcies and bribery attempts, lawsuits, even a kind of intensifying guerrilla warfare between local utility crews and a shadowy army of bootleg miners who set up their servers in basements and garages and max out the local electrical grids.
“What you can actually do with the technology, we’re only beginning to discover” — Malachi Salcido. Latest news, analysis and comment on defense in Europe and beyond. Carlson’s idea was to leapfrog the basement phase and go right to a commercial-scale bitcoin mine that was huge: 1,000 kilowatts.
You needed space for a few hundred high-speed computer servers, and also for the heavy-duty cooling system to keep them from melting down as they churned out the trillions of calculations necessary to mine bitcoin. Today, a half-megawatt mine, Miehe says, “is nothing.” The commercial miners now pouring into the valley are building sites with tens of thousands of servers and electrical loads of as much as 30 megawatts, or enough to power a neighborhood of 13,000 homes.
Over the past two years, and especially during 2017, when the price of a single bitcoin jumped from $1,000 to more than $19,000, the region has taken on the vibe of a boomtown. Miners have agreed to pay heavy hook-up fees and to finance some of the needed infrastructure upgrades. But he no longer has any appetite for the race for scale. The main use of blockchain technology now is to keep a growing electronic ledger of every single bitcoin transaction ever made. According to Anthony “Pomp” Pompliano, the co-founder of Morgan Creek Digital, there are a number of reasons, not only mining, to remain convinced that cryptocurrencies, namely BTC, still have the ability to alter the face of planet Earth. For all that potential, however, the basin’s nascent mining community was beset by the sort of troubles that you would have found in any other boomtown. The exodus of minor crypto miners actually reduces mining problems and boosts profitability for major entities like Salcido Enterprises and Chinese mining giant Bitmain. “What I had to decide was, do I think this recovers, or does the chart keep going like this and become nothing?” Salcido told me recently. His servers, meanwhile, pretty much run themselves — although, when he’s at work, clerking at a grocery, he monitors the machines, and the Ethereum price, on his phone.
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