Hours after becoming the first state to legal tender Bitcoin, El Salvador’s President Nayib Bukele instructed a state-owned geothermal company to use geothermal energy from the country’s volcanoes to mine the cryptocurrency.
“I have just directed the president of @LaGeoSV (our state-run geothermal electricity company) to come up with a plan to offer bitcoin mining equipment with very cheap, 100% clean, 100% renewable energy with zero emissions from our volcanoes,” wrote Bukele on twitter.
The Bitcoin law was approved by a “super majority” that received 62 votes out of a possible 84 in Congress in the Central American country.
In another tweet, Bukele said the country’s engineers dug a new well to provide around 95 MW of 100 percent clean – emission-free – geothermal energy from the volcano.
“Start designing a full Bitcoin mining hub around it,” he said along with a video of steam rising from a well.
The move comes amid growing criticism of the environmental impact of Bitcoin mining, with experts pointing out that the underlying network to produce the cryptocurrency now uses almost as much energy as the entire country of Argentina.
Bitcoin mining, a process that generates new units of virtual currency, involves solving complex mathematical equations that require energy-intensive computer operations.
Despite a procedural ban in China, much of the mining industry takes place in the country, and the problem is exacerbated as two-thirds of the power to do the calculations comes from coal.
An analysis by the University of Cambridge found that the Bitcoin network consumes over 121 terawatt hours (TWh) annually, which would make it one of the 30 largest consumers of electricity in the world if it were a country.
“We are concerned about the rapidly increasing use of fossil fuels for Bitcoin mining and transactions, especially coal, which is the worst emissions of any fuel,” Tesla CEO Elon Musk said last month when the company ran out of bitcoins as currency .
However, experts have also suggested that better access to cheap renewable energy would allow miners to move to them for clean production of the cryptocurrency.
In countries like Iceland and Norway, cryptocurrency miners are already using cheap hydropower and geothermal energy to power their mining rigs.
“In its current state, the infrastructure that supports the Bitcoin protocol cannot be maintained, but the beauty of the protocol is that the incentive structure forces miners to use the cheapest form of electricity that will be renewable in the near future . ”Don Wyper, COO of DigitalMint, had said itThe independent one in May.