America Is Running Out Of Electricity

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It was bound to happen. An aging American infrastructure system, powered to some extent by coal and hydroelectric power, has faced rising needs for electricity for houses, businesses, AI, and Bitcoin. There is no short-term solution, and when one does occur, it is likely to be political.

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According to The Washington Post, some industries may falter because of the competition for electricity. “The power crunch imperils their ability to supply the energy needed to charge the millions of electric cars and household appliances required to meet state and federal climate goals.”

AI and crypto energy consumption could not have been forecast only a few years ago. It is now clear that Bitcoin mining will be a challenge. However, the EIA did not publish an analysis of the challenge until just weeks ago. It published a paper in February titled. “Tracking electricity consumption from U.S. cryptocurrency mining operations.” The author observed, “Our preliminary estimates suggest that annual electricity use from cryptocurrency mining probably represents from 0.6% to 2.3% of U.S. electricity consumption.” And that number is rising quickly. 

Low Supply

There are several examples of how climate change has compromised electricity supply. One is how drought has affected one of the largest energy suppliers in the Western US- the Hoover Dam. According to NewsNow, “At full capacity, the turbines at the dam can produce 2,074 megawatts, but as the water level has declined during the drought, power production has been affected and efficiency of the power plant is down 33%.” At peak production, this electricity powers one million homes. 

Coal’s use as a source of electricity has environmental problems. The EIA puts the percentage of electricity from coal at 16%. They would need to drop sharply to cut greenhouse gas emissions from electricity generation, but what happens to the goal to lower this, at least in the short term?

AI Use

AI’s use of electricity is just at its beginning. Powerful AI applications have become the cutting edge of the tech world. Electricity used for AI to expand rapidly would siphon off unimaginable amounts of energy.

Who will referee the battle for electricity? There is only one answer. Regulators are the only group with the power. And some of the groups that need electricity will not get the share they need.

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