The future of Bitcoin (BTC) and crypto mining could involve a move away from coal and Asia – and toward hydroelectric energy and the Latin America region, with a Costa Rican power plant now feeding electricity to “hundreds” of mining rigs.
Although crypto mining is still very much a niche industry in Latin America, the picture is changing fast for miners, who were told to shut down their rigs in China last year, and have faced serious disruptions in Eastern European and Central Asian regions such as Kazakhstan, Georgia, Kosovo, Abkhazia, and Russia.
Bitcoin has also been labeled as a major polluter by environmental activists, who accuse it of being carbon-intensive. (Learn more: A Closer Look at the Environmental Impact of Bitcoin Mining)
But there are signs all that may be changing. Reuters reported “more than 650 machines from 150 customers” now “operate non-stop from eight containers” receiving power from a hydroelectric plant next to the Poas River.
The power station is owned by a hydroelectric company run by Eduardo Kooper, whose family operates a company named Data Center CR at the site of the plant. Reuters remarked that the firm actually owns three plants that are valued at USD 13.5m, packing a combined 3 Megawatt capacity.
Kooper had been selling his firm’s electricity to the grid for three decades, but was forced to “reinvent” the business during the coronavirus pandemic when “the government stopped buying electricity” due “to surplus power supply.”
He was quoted as explaining:
“We had to pause activity for nine months, and exactly one year ago I heard about bitcoin, blockchain and digital mining. I was very skeptical at first, but we saw that this business consumes a lot of energy and we have a surplus.”
This initial skepticism appears to have quickly changed to enthusiasm – and saw Data Center CR invest USD 500,000 into mining hosting innovations.
And the Data Center CR chief added that “international cryptocurrency miners are looking for clean, cheap energy and a stable internet connection, which Costa Rica has plenty of.”
Almost all of the nation’s energy is harnessed from renewable sources, some 72% of which comes from hydroelectric plants, per data from the National Center for Energy Control (reported by TicoNews last month).
Kooper advised the Costa Rican state to follow his lead and “be more aggressive about trying to attract more crypto mining business.”
In Paraguay, the Senate has approved a bill that seeks to legalize and regulate the crypto mining sector and seek to convert much of the nation’s surplus hydroelectric power into electricity for crypto miners.
And in El Salvador, the government has begun work on a “volcanode” – a Bitcoin mining project powered by geothermal energy harnessed from volcanoes.
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