A new pilot program running out of City Hall makes Fort Worth the first city in the U.S. to actively mine Bitcoin. An official press release from the city posted Tuesday reads:
Beginning today, the S9 Bitcoin mining machines will run 24/7 in the climate-controlled Information Technology Solutions Department Data Center located at Fort Worth City Hall, where they will be housed on a private network to minimize security risk.
The S9 Bitcoin mining machines were donated by the Texas Blockchain Council, which is a nonprofit collection of companies interested in bolstering Texas’ economy with blockchain. The Council—made up of universities, startups, law firms, and large enterprises—aim to collaborate with the state and local governments to integrate blockchain into the Texas economy. When asked what benefit Bitcoin will offer the state’s economy, The Texas Blockchain Council did not immediately return Gizmodo’s request for comment.
“We will see more and more public and private institutions experiment with cryptocurrency,” Christian Catalini, Founder of MIT’s Cryptoeconomics Lab and Research Scientist at MIT Sloan, told Gizmodo in an email. “Right now, it’s a way to signal that you’re supportive of this wave of innovation and to learn by doing. In a few years, there’s a chance that these early adopters will be able to use cryptocurrency networks for all sorts of new applications, from payments to financial services.”
With this new development, Fort Worth adds to Texas’ growing cryptocurrency boom as reported by Dallas Innovates in March. Riot Blockchain, one of the largest Bitcoin mining companies in North America, announced plans today to expand their pre-existing mining facility in Navarro County, Texas. Earlier this month, Axios reported that the Dallas Cowboys signed a sponsorship deal with Blockchain.com, a cryptocurrency financial service, which will further boost cryptocurrency’s visibility in the Lone Star State.
Fort Worth officials say that these three miners running constantly will only consume the energy equivalent to a household vacuum cleaner. Bitcoin mining requires a ton of energy, though. The S9 Bitcoin miners need 1323 watts of power, which is approximately the same as a best-selling vacuum according to Cleaners Talk. The difference, however, is that these miners will be running 24 hours a day, which means that all three miners will be consuming 95 kilowatt-hours per day. This is an amount equivalent to running nearly 100 40 watt incandescent light bulbs all day, or a single-passenger vehicle driving 102 miles per the Environmental Protection Agency.
While this may not seem like a large amount of emissions right out of the gate, the pilot program is starting small to test out the feasibility of a wider scale municipal Bitcoin mining operation. After six months, the program will be assessed and could potentially expand, which would increase the power consumption needed to run any additional miners, while setting a framework for other cities to follow suit.