Maximino DiGiacomo-Castillo

MIT Department: Institute for Data, Systems, and Society
Faculty Mentor: Prof. Jessika Trancik
Undergraduate Institution: Stanford University
Website: LinkedIn
Research Poster


My name is Max DiGiacomo-Castillo and I’m a rising junior at Stanford. I am originally from Ringwood, NJ. My research focuses on blockchain and cryptocurrencies. Recently, I’ve started to focus on the sustainability of cryptocurrency mining and other blockchain projects. After graduation I plan to pursue a PhD.

2021 Abstract

Bitcoin’s Potential For Load Flexibility

Max DiGiacomo-Castillo1, Aliza Khurram2, Micah S. Ziegler2,
and Jessika Trancik
1Department of Computer Science, Stanford University
2Institute for Data, Systems, and Society, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Intermittent sources of renewable energy like solar and wind suffer from periods of overproduction and underproduction. Flexible loads can respond to these situations by using energy that would otherwise be curtailed, or by shutting off in response to a shortage of energy. Loads that are sufficiently flexible can provide further revenue to energy suppliers or support grid reliability, and thereby help support the deployment of renewable energy technologies. Bitcoin mining is one potential source of flexible load. Organizations with heavy exposure to Bitcoin have modeled mining as a source of demand response and suggested that miners could allow larger amounts of solar capacity to be installed. Still, these organizations do not account for hardware or cooling limitations in their demand response models. In this project, we will explore the practicality of demand response given the operational flexibility and/or physical limitations of industrial scale mining facilities (e.g., ramp up times of mining hardware, thermal management requirements for facilities, etc). To this end, we will first estimate the energy consumption of the Bitcoin network, then determine which system attributes are the most significant contributors to this energy consumption. Finally, we will look at how well suited each system attribute is to partake in demand response for supporting renewables adoption.