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Bitcoin Mining: El Salvador’s Plans to Harness the Power of Volcanos
Shock and Awe
Ever heard of Mount Vesuvius, the volcano that buried Pompeii? The awesome powers of volcanos have always been a force to be reckoned with. If El Salvador’s President Nayib Bukele has his way, however, the Central American country’s volcanos will soon be harnessed for something far more shocking–to power Bitcoin mining facilities.
What Was President Nayib Bukele Thinking?
Though Bitcoin has been legal for some time in El Salvadore, its use was voluntary. That is until June 8 when the nation’s Congress approved legislation that required all businesses, with the exception of those that lack the technology, to accept the cryptocurrency as a form of payment.
The move was extraordinary. As a result, El Salvadore became the first country in the world to adopt bitcoin as legal tender.
The push by President Nayib Bukele to adopt digital currency will be an interesting test in a country where 70 percent of its inhabitants don’t hold bank accounts. Digital currency is known to be highly volatile, and so how its mainstream use will affect the Salvadoran economy remains to be seen.
Bukele said he hopes it will help Salvadorans who don’t have access to traditional banks and that it may also attract money from foreign investments.
This Is Going to Evolve Fast!
Not unsurprisingly, the financial move has brought a great deal of attention to the environmentally unfriendly process of mining bitcoin.
The “production” of bitcoins requires miners to solve extremely complex mathematical problems using computers that use tremendous amounts of energy. In fact, according to Bank of America analysts, the C02 emissions from the industry’s overall mining have risen to as much as 60 million tons.
Just one day after the legislation was approved, Bukele announced he had instructed the country’s state-owned geothermal electric firm LaGeo to develop a bitcoin mining plan that uses renewable energy from El Salvador’s volcanos.
“This is going to evolve fast!” Bukele said in a tweet. He followed up later to say their engineers had informed him a new well had already been dug that will provide 100 percent clean, zero-emissions geothermal energy from their volcanos. “Starting to design a full #Bitcoin mining hub around it,” he said.
Using Volcanic Power Is Not Unprecedented
With large amounts of volcanic geothermal energy available to the Central American nation, El Salvador is among the top ten geothermal energy producers in the world.
Iceland, which has a similarly high concentration of volcanos, likewise has an advantage when it comes to generating geothermal energy. Because of those features, Iceland has also become a paradise for crypto mining and presently expends more electricity on mining crypto than it does on all the households in its country.
Maintaining a Laser Focus
It will be worth watching how this national experiment will do in the coming months and years, and Bukele appears to be giving it laser focus.
When he put the bill forward in the legislature to make Bitcoin legal tender, he updated his Twitter profile photo to show him with red laser eyes. Recently, he changed them to blue in line with the internet meme expressing his support for cryptocurrency.