El Salvador has taken quite a terrific risk in becoming the first country to make bitcoin legal tender, a move that other countries have yet to take. It’s quite possible that the country has made a mistake (or has it?) but El Salvador doesn’t appear to think so. Case in point: The country’s looking at unusual methods of mining bitcoin-like using a volcano as a power source.
Really, El Salvador?
— Nayib Bukele 🇸🇻 (@nayibbukele) October 1, 2021
One of the largest criticisms of bitcoin mining is the power draw required to mine new coins. Entire power plants are being repurposed to mine bitcoin, meaning that the average person at home attempting to get in on the action faces a high power bill for varying levels of profit. The resulting power draw tends to lead to increased pollution wherever bitcoin farms are located.
The government of El Salvador has an interesting idea — using geothermal power generated by volcanoes to mine cryptocurrency. State-owned energy company LaGeo SA de CV, according to the country’s president Nayib Bukele, has generated about $269 (just over R4,000) using energy gathered from a volcano in the country. In mining terms, this isn’t a whole lot of money, but it’s relatively guilt-free (barring some sort of Pompei situation but that’s… unlikely).
The amount of money generated by geothermal mining should increase over time — the so-called “volcanode” is only partially installed, and will eventually operate at a greater capacity. At least the ecologically minded won’t have much to complain about. But the country’s choice to hitch its economy to bitcoin, which is prone to very volatile swings, is only really popular with cryptocurrency fans. Protests erupted in the country last month, against President Nayib Bukele as well as against the implementation of bitcoin as legal tender in the country.