Putting underused renewables to work mining cryptocurrency
Most politicians greatly dislike the idea and use of cryptocurrency. It threatens the fiat money central banks print in increasingly massive amounts, and avoids the increasingly intrusive controls governments enforce on economic activity.
But politicians won’t lead with those arguments. Instead, they will warn that cryptocurrency is the tool of criminal gangs and shady individuals – nevermind that good old cash and the traditional banking system continue to be mainstays of such activity.
Others will say the energy cost of mining crypto and creating blockchains is the real issue. And it’s here, CoinDesk’s David Morris writes, that crypto fans need to pay attention:
Bitcoin really does use a lot of energy, by design. Even if you think that energy use is well worth it, the current reality of global warming means the future of humanity depends on eliminating greenhouse gases from the energy-production process.
Morris says a possible solution may be developing in one of the least likely of places on Earth:
…Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele said his country, which has just adopted bitcoin as legal tender, would make it easy for miners to harness green geothermal energy from the country’s volcanos…
The move isn’t just significant because the energy source is renewable, but because much of that renewable energy is currently underutilized or “stranded.” Unlike nearly every valuable commodity on Earth, electricity is very hard to move over long distances. El Salvador’s geothermal plants are a sterling example – the country has a moribund economy thanks in part to decades of corruption leading up to Bukele’s presidency, and many of its power plants reportedly go underutilized. Bitcoin is a way to utilize this sort of hard-to-use energy, as has already been demonstrated with bitcoin mines powered by China’s underused hydroelectric plants and natural gas flaring in the U.S. and elsewhere.
It’s a fascinating concept: using renewable power that otherwise goes to waste to build out the cryptocurrency market.
The downside is Bukele is something of an “hipster authoritarian,” which makes his latest moves suspect – are they real, or just for show (probably the latter)?
Even if he has no intention of actually helping his own people, the idea of using renewable energy resources in various parts of the world that might otherwise sit idle to build out the crypto universe is intriguing. And it just might lead to more prosperity, and liberty, in the places where both are in short supply.