Hotspot volcanoes

El Salvador Takes “First Steps” Towards Bitcoin Mining With Volcanoes

In short

  • El Salvador’s president said in June that the country would use its volcanoes to mine Bitcoin.
  • The president released a video yesterday showing the country kicking off the project.

The Salvadoran president said via a video on Twitter that the country has launched its project to use geothermal energy – from volcanoes – to mine Bitcoin.

President Nayib Bukele, a big Twitter user, posted the video yesterday with the caption “First steps”, accompanied by a volcano emoji.

The short clip, which already has 1.8 million views, showed a data center in a forest. He then zoomed in on a worker inside the center connecting a wire to a bitcoin mining machine. Bitcoin mining is the energy-intensive process of using powerful computers to verify transactions on the blockchain.

Bitcoin mining has come under intense scrutiny lately due to the amount of energy it uses. More and more mining companies are search now clean energy to produce the asset.

Bukele mentioned in June that El Salvador’s state-owned electricity company, LaGeo, would use “very cheap, 100% clean, 100% renewable, 0 emissions energy from our volcanoes” to mine Bitcoin.

Controversial El Salvador gave Bitcoin legal tender in the country on September 7. It is the first country in the world to do so.

The idea is the brainchild of the country’s millennial president, who came to power in 2019. Although Bukele is popular in the country (recent polls put his approval rating above 80%), the president’s bitcoin law has been criticized by the likes of the World Bank and some Salvadorans.

Citizens criticized the idea earlier this month when thousands took to the streets to protest against the president – which were the biggest protests since Bukele took power, according to to local media.

Salvadoran bitcoin law states that businesses must accept bitcoin payments if they have the technology.

Citizens are not obliged to use it but are encouraged to do so by the government: there is a state wallet, called Chivo, and those who download it to their smartphone are rewarded with $30 in Bitcoin. Salvadorans have shared pictures on Twitter of their cryptocurrency giveaways since using the wallet.

The wallet had technical issues at first but Bukele now complaints more citizens use the wallet than any bank in the country.

Want to be a crypto expert? Get the best of Decrypt straight to your inbox.

Get the biggest crypto news + weekly digests and more!