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Crypto Gets Hotter: El Salvador Officially Starts Mining Bitcoin With Volcanic Energy

Bitcoin lava stock image
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

El Salvador has officially used volcanic energy to mine Bitcoin. President Nayib Bukele announced on October 1 that the so-called "Volcanode" mined its first BTC shortly after mining equipment was installed at the geothermal power plant.

Bukele's announcement was short on details. He didn't reveal how many rigs were installed at the Volcanode site, how much of the plant's electricity was devoted to Bitcoin mining, or how the project would move forward now that it's operational.

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But he did show Volcanode's initial haul: 0.00599179 BTC. That's worth about $286.50, based on Bitcoin's current value of roughly $47,831. Prices have fluctuated since Bukele's announcement, but not enough to make a significant difference.

Bukele first announced his plan to mine Bitcoin with volcanic energy in June, shortly after the El Salvador Congress approved his proposal to accept the cryptocurrency as legal tender, which the country made official on September 7.

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That move was marred by issues with Chivo, the El Salvador government's official crypto wallet, as well as significant drops in Bitcoin's value. But the country moved forward anyway, and Bukele said on Sunday that Chivo now has 3 million users.

Using "very cheap, 100% clean, 100% renewable, 0 emissions energy" to mine Bitcoin could help El Salvador adjust the public perception of the cryptocurrency and its counterparts as an environmentally hostile way for its supporters to get rich.

That all depends on how successful the project is, however, and if Bukele's claims about this volcanic energy prove accurate. Even then, many will argue the energy could be put to better use, but at least El Salvador's trying to address the problem.

  • InvalidError
    Unless the crypto is powered entirely by EXCESS renewable energy that would otherwise be lost, crypto is still dirty by consuming power that could be used to shift load away from non-renewable sources.
    Reply
  • daworstplaya
    So basically they are printing monopoly money that is backed by nothing but speculation. Got it.
    Reply
  • gargoylenest
    aren't volcanoes the biggest natural greenhouse gas emitter? How can that be green? If I make electricity from the pollution emitted by an industry, I wouldn't say my electricity is green.
    Reply
  • Heat_Fan89
    daworstplaya said:
    So basically they are printing monopoly money that is backed by nothing but speculation. Got it.
    That sounds a lot like the US dollar. I wish I had Jerome Powell's computer so I could add a few billion to my checking account.
    Reply
  • BillyBuerger
    gargoylenest said:
    aren't volcanoes the biggest natural greenhouse gas emitter? How can that be green? If I make electricity from the pollution emitted by an industry, I wouldn't say my electricity is green.
    Yes, volcanoes are not "clean". But they exist already whether we use them or not. As long as we are not creating volcanic activity ourselves just to use it for energy (please no), it's not adding anything to the existing greenhouse gases that would already be there. At the very least that makes sense. But still, it's a complete waste to use this energy for crypto instead of reducing the dirty fuels that are still being used at the same time.
    Reply
  • Chung Leong
    InvalidError said:
    Unless the crypto is powered entirely by EXCESS renewable energy that would otherwise be lost, crypto is still dirty by consuming power that could be used to shift load away from non-renewable sources.

    They probably only mine at night. Given that El Salvador has banned metal mining, there's no industry that could otherwise make use of the output.
    Reply
  • InvalidError
    Chung Leong said:
    They probably only mine at night. Given that El Salvador has banned metal mining, there's no industry that could otherwise make use of the output.
    Don't mine at night!

    Ideally, you'd store surplus somewhere, then only the surplus beyond storage capacity top-off would be free to burn on crypto.
    Reply