El Salvador’s head of the hydroelectric commission told reporters on Friday that the nation’s current experiment as a first-time adopter of the cryptocurrency Bitcoin could be increasingly invigorated by new streams of renewable energy.
Last month, the Central American nation became the first country to introduce bitcoin as legal tender alongside the U.S. dollar, which for years served as the nation’s only official currency.
The energy-intensive “mining” of cryptocurrencies is carried out by computers, and has been criticized by environmentalists as the main source of demand for electricity, which is largely derived from fossil fuels.
Daniel Alvarez, president of the state’s Lempa River Hydroelectric Executive Commission, said the country has the potential to generate electricity through hydropower, solar, wind and tidal power.
Last September, the Salvadoran government began using geothermal energy for bitcoin mining from a plant at the foot of the Tecapa volcano, 106 kilometres east of the capital. This plant generates about 102 megawatts, and the government plans to add another five megawatts in 2022. Currently, 1.5 megawatts are being allocated to bitcoin.