El Salvador

El Salvador to Tame Volcanoes for Bitcoin Mining in 2021

SAN SALVADOR: “El Salvador‘s unfolding experiment as a first-adopter of the cryptocurrency bitcoin may very well be more and more powered by new streams of renewable vitality”, the chief of the nation’s hydroelectric fee informed the reporters on Friday.

After Bitcoin’s adoption on September 7, El Salvador became the first country to officially use cryptocurrency next to the US dollar.

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El Salvador is a Central American country with over 30 volcanoes of which 20 are said to be currently active. 

Environmentalists are worried about the pollution that these giant turbines are going to make. Until now, some of the Salvadorans are concerned about the negative impact of Bitcoin mining since they still use coal and fossil fuel to run the operations.

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In the meantime, burning coal is one of the major contributors to climate change due to the carbon dioxide that the process creates. CNBC previously reported that bitcoin mining accounts for around 35.95 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions every year.

“Bitcoin’s energy needs are enormously large,” Cambridge Centre for Alternative’s research affiliate, Michel Rauchs, said at that time. 

He also added that Bitcoin mining definitely will use much more energy in the future than this.

“We have a container where there are a series of processors that are currently working,” said Gustavo Cuellar, technical manager of the Rio Lempa Hydroelectric Executive Commission (CEL), the state-owned company on which the plant depends.

112 km south of the capital city San Salvador, has a geothermal plant that was built in 1999. The plant is composed of 16 – 2,000 to 3,000 deep shafts from which steam circulates and makes three turbines function.

The energy generated by those turbines can reach up to 107 megawatts, but only five are used for the operation and mining of Bitcoin. The rest of the energy is used for El Salvador’s grid.

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Daniel Alvarez, president of the state-run Lempa River Hydroelectric Executive Commission (CEL), said El Salvador has the potential to generate electricity through hydroelectric, solar, wind, and tidal power projects.

“The possibilities are endless here, it’s just about willpower and that we have the means and the ability to start these projects,” Alvarez said.

“We don’t spend resources that contaminate the environment, we don’t depend on oil, we don’t depend on natural gas, on any resource that isn’t renewable,” Daniel Alvarez said.

Thanks to this energy source, about 300 computers can work day and night. Bitcoins are created using computers that solve complex mathematical problems and require a large amount of electricity to operate.

“The mining industry is in a state of flux after China’s crackdown in June,” say researchers at Britain’s Cambridge University in a recent study. They also added, “we lack data to establish how the redistribution of mining activity affects the energy mix of the global grid,” the researchers note, estimating the energy consumption of miners at 0.4 percent of global electricity production.

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Unfortunately for El Salvador and President Bukele, the cryptocurrency policy is aggressively opposed by some Salvadorans who denounce an “authoritarian government” and “bad ideas that harm the economy, like Bitcoin”.

Since the legalization of Bitcoin, about 3 million of the 6.7 million Salvadorans have downloaded Chivo App which was created by the government to trade Bitcoin.

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