El Salvador President Nayib Bukele has always been on the cutting edge; you can tell because he named the right-wing populist party he founded “Nuevas Ideas.” But Bukele’s most notorious avant-garde move of late has been adopting bitcoin as the country’s legal tender, an announcement that coincided with the government acquiring hundreds of bitcoin and rolling out a national “virtual wallet” called “Chivo” — Salvadoran slang for “cool.”
As part of this cool transition, El Salvador has started mining the cryptocurrency using energy harnessed from a volcano. Bukele announced the news by tweet Friday morning, sharing a 25-second trailer of bitcoin mining rigs and aerial shots of an energy factory.
The grand total of this trail-blazing effort was 0.00599179 Bitcoin, according to CNBC — or, approximately, $269. For that haul, he could invest in this PowerPlus HEPA Air Purifier (Extra-Large Room), this Rough Series handgun (“Woah, for $269”), this Nest Wifi Mesh Router (two-pack), or a round-trip flight from Seattle Tacoma International Airport (based on average KAYAK searches from the last two weeks).
El Salvador’s bullish approach to bitcoin has been lauded by some, including Gawker’s favorite cowboy Brock Pierce. Others — like say, the World Bank, which rejected his request for help implementing the currency, or the thousand-odd protestors who hit the streets after Bukele announced the news — have been less enthusiastic.
The geothermal technique has been presented as an alternative to the energy-sucking approach to cryptocurrency mining, and one that El Salvador, known as the “land of the volcanos,” has in spades. But the idea of volcano-powered mining is not actually that new — engineers in Iceland have been doing it for a decade. Whatever the case, it all seems very worth it for $269.