El Salvador’s President Nayib Bukele, who has been a proponent of making Bitcoin legal tender, has been exploring ways to power mining using geothermal energy from volcanoes. Bukele, who made his country the first to accept Bitcoin as legal tender, had announced plans to explore Salvador’s volcanoes as a way to power Bitcoin mining in an environmentally sound manner in June this year. On September 29, Bukele posted a video on Twitter showing a Bitcoin Mine operating next to one of these volcanoes, calling it “a first step”.
The video seems to show application specific integrated circuit (ASIC) Bitcoin mining rigs being installed inside a geothermal energy plant. At the time of writing, the tweet had been retweeted over 13,000 times and the video had over 2.1 million views.
El Salvador became the first country to accept Bitcoin as legal tender on September 7. While the country has been pushing forward with the move, questions around the environmental impact of Bitcoin mining have been amongst the key concerns coming from experts and critics alike.
Bitcoin mining requires a significant amount of computing power, somewhat similar to data centers. Big proponents of cryptocurrencies, including billionaires Elon Musk and Twitter founder Jack Dorsey, have expressed concerns about the fact that most of the energy required to provide this computing power comes from fossil fuels.
According to a New York Times report from earlier this year, mining Bitcoins can consume as much as 91 terawatt-hours of electricity per year, which is more than the total amount of electricity consumed by a country like Finland in the same time. The question now is whether El Salvador can produce a requisite amount of energy through its volcanoes. Coindesk reports that the country uses these volcanoes to fulfill 21.7% of its electricity needs.