Trying to understand crypto mining

For months I have been hearing people talk about crypto mining and I could not for the life of me understand what exactly that means. This crypto mining situation has captured my attention.

I got a call saying I needed to come to Ulysses, Kansas, and check out this new crypto mining operation that recently hosted an open house. I missed that event but I did get a visual of what exactly is taking place.

The first thing you notice is that a small substation was built directly in front of the location, and power is supplied by Pioneer Electric Cooperative. I was told that it was supposed to be powered by methane from neighboring natural gas production but instead electricity from the local co-op is supplying their power.

In 2021 China issued a nationwide ban on most crypto mining for a number of reasons but at the top of their list was the extreme amount of electricity that was needed and how it would prevent the country from meeting its neutral carbon goals. China has just completed its ninth coal fired power plant with three more under construction and yet the crypto mining is considered an ecological concern.

I have zero concern about coal as a source of electricity. In fact, I have recently learned that 82% of the world’s electricity is derived from coal and 1.79% from solar and wind. Natural gas and coal are the two reliable sources of electricity that should be embraced instead of rejected.

So back to the crypto mining operation at Big Bow, Kansas. This location, with five small buildings full of computers running 24/7, is paying $600,000 per month in electric bills. I found that hard to believe but then I did a deeper dive and learned that one—just one—digital transaction required 1,739 kilowatt-hours of electricity. To put that into context, each transaction is equal to the household use of the typical American family for 2 months. That is just one transaction and these computers do millions by the minute.

I have found some other publications talking about the future of crypto mining and here is a summary of what had to say:

“The process requires immense computing power, with energy consumption equivalent to the demands of countries such as Finland. It also results in massive carbon emissions—an estimated 90.76 million tons annually, comparable to the carbon footprint of Greece.

“In recent years, operations have moved to the U.S. as previous hubs such as China have banned Bitcoin mining. They’ve become concentrated in Texas, with its deregulated energy grid, as well as in New York. Respectively, the two states account for 14% and 19.9% of Bitcoin’s computing power within the United States.”

As I was driving through Texas, just north of Floydada, I drove past another crypto mining site under construction. It looked just like they were building a concentrated animal feeding operation.

Since seeing this firsthand, I have spoken with a number of people who are investing in the bitcoin development world. Each one of them has told me that they are extremely energy intense but have not generated an ounce of concern about consuming too much of our electricity. Honestly, that is not how I see this shaking out. Furthermore, it appears that all of this leads us down the path of eliminating our national currency and forcing us into using global digital currency, which I certainly do not agree with. So where will the buck stop on bitcoin mining? The verdict is still out.

Editor’s note: The views expressed here are the author’s own and do not represent the views of High Plains Journal. Trent Loos is a sixth generation United States farmer, host of the daily radio show, Loos Tales, and founder of Faces of Agriculture, a non-profit organization putting the human element back into the production of food. Get more information at, or email Trent at [email protected].