Volcanoes in El Salvador to power bitcoin mining, President Nayib Bukele

Cryptocurrency is red hot.

Cryptocurrency is red hot.

Bitcoin is a hot topic in El Salvador — and the country says it intends to mine it using the energy generated by its volcanoes.

President Nayib Bukele of El Salvador announced Wednesday that the country’s state-owned geothermal electric company will mine Bitcoin using volcanic energy, just hours after the country’s legislature approved the “Bitcoin Law,” making it the first to do so.

Bukele stated that the country is already developing a mining hub that will be powered entirely by “very cheap, 100 percent clean, 100 percent renewable” energy derived from volcanoes. The operation would essentially be a bank of super-powered computers that solve the complex mathematical equations required to mine Bitcoin.

“Our engineers have just informed me that they have dug a new well,” Bukele tweeted, adding that it would generate 95 megawatts of energy — enough to power more than 500 homes for an entire year. “What you are witnessing emerging from the well is pure water vapor.”

Bukele — who is seeking to reduce transaction fees on the $6 billion in remittances sent to its citizens from abroad each year — has not yet specified when the new operation will go live or how many Bitcoins he anticipates mining.

El Salvador has had a bullish week for Bitcoin. The digital coin can now be used in the public and private sectors to pay for goods, services, and taxes. Bitcoin increased by 6% in response to the news, according to Coindesk data.

According to a study conducted by Cambridge University, Bitcoin mining consumes more energy than the Philippines does in a single year. Elon Musk has met with Bitcoin miners to discuss environmental concerns, most recently citing them when announcing Tesla’s decision to discontinue accepting Bitcoin as payment.

The mining efforts and the extent to which El Salvador will adopt Bitcoin remain unknown. The law states that it will provide “the necessary training and mechanisms” to educate the 70% of its citizens who lack access to traditional banking services on how to use Bitcoin, but does not elaborate.

Bukele, however, remains an ardent supporter of the currency and his mining venture. He tweeted drone footage of the new mine with a rainbow in the background late Thursday.

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