Tech | October 2, 2021 6:30 am

In El Salvador, a Volcano Powers Crypto Mining

It's less surreal than it sounds

A Volcano
How much crypto could you get from this volcano?
Toby Elliott/Unsplash

It might sound like the solution to a game of Clue, but rest assured that the following describes a very real phenomenon: El Salvador mining Bitcoin using volcanoes. Well, to be more specific, the country is mining Bitcoin using the energy generated by a volcano — but the larger point stands. Can you use geothermal power to create cryptocurrency? One nation seems bound and determined to find out.

El Salvador, as you may recall, adopted Bitcoin as a legal currency last month. It’s not the only legal tender in El Salvador, but El Salvador is the only country to adopt such a policy on a national level. And this ambitious foray into cryptocurrency is going a step beyond simply allowing someone to buy clothing, coffee or a car using Bitcoin. The nation is also working on mining — which El Salvador’s president, Nayib Bukele, took to Twitter to promote.

Writing at CNBC, MacKenzie Sigalos has more details on the venture. Sigalos observes that this project is consistent with a goal Bukele stated earlier this year — namely, to involve LaGeo SA de CV, the state-owned electric utility, in the mining of Bitcoin. So far, the project has mined the equivalent of $269 — though these are also the early days of the venture. “We’re still testing and installing,” Bukele wrote on Twitter.

As CNBC’s article points out, El Salvador has an abundance of volcanoes — a quality it shares with Iceland, which has also used geothermal power to mine cryptocurrency. Given the ongoing concerns over the power used for this purpose, it’s something that gives countries that have such resources a leg up. We’re still in the early days of El Salvador’s venture, but things are off to an intriguing start.