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Cryptocurrency: El Salvador working towards greener bitcoin mining by using volcanoes
Cryptocurrency in El Salvador is going mainstream after it adopted digital currency as a legal tender in September. The country even installed a Bitcoin mining facility already, and it is in operation now.
Now, there are concerns over the mining of cryptocurrencies, as they are said to have a negative impact on the environment. Currently, coal and other fossil fuels are being used as a significant source of electricity worldwide for cryptocurrency mining operations and others that need power.
However, burning coal is a major contributor 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 added that bitcoin is more likely to use more electricity over time.
"It doesn't really matter whether there are new, more efficient machines on the market," Rauchs added. "You will just use more and more machines but the total electricity consumption won't go down based on that."
Apparently, due to the concerns over the massive carbon footprint of bitcoin mining and the criticisms from environmentalists, El Salvador is trying to find alternative sources of energy that will not be harmful to the surroundings. According to Reuters, El Salvador's head of the hydroelectric commission said that cryptocurrency mining in the country could be powered by new streams of renewable energy.
Daniel Alvarez, the president of Lempa River Hydroelectric Executive Commission (CEL), said that El Salvador has the capacity to generate electricity through hydroelectric, solar, wind, and tidal power. He said that the possibilities are endless in their region and they have the means and ability to carry out the projects.
After adopting cryptocurrency, El Salvador President Nayib Bukele vowed to make bitcoin mining cheap and to use renewable energy. This is why last month, the country started to mobilize geothermal energy for bitcoin mining from a plant that was set up at the base of the Tecapa volcano.
They also put up 300 computers in a trailer at the said geothermal power plant for the mining. As per Fox Business, President Bukele and others think that El Salvador's geothermal resources for generating electricity from the volcano's steam could finally be the solution they are looking for to reduce carbon emission from bitcoin mining.
"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 Álvarez said.