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Kenyan Volcano Turns on Lights in Rural Homes with Jack Dorsey’s Bitcoin Mining Support

In a distant area of Kenya, a collective of Bitcoin miners has devised a groundbreaking method to fuel their activities and provide electricity to rural households.

Nestled close to Hell’s Gate National Park, these miners have established their base within the vicinity of an inactive volcano. Here, they employ a mobile container outfitted with solar panels and tap into energy from a nearby geothermal source.

This distinctive arrangement enables them to engage in Bitcoin mining while also supplying power to nearby communities.

Heading this initiative is Gridless, a startup supported by Jack Dorsey’s Block.

Gridless Operates Six Mines

Gridless runs six mines spanning Kenya, Malawi, and Zambia, each fueled by a blend of renewable energy sources.

“Many focus on bitcoin’s price and its value as a store of wealth or means of transaction,” explained Gridless CEO Erik Hersman to CNBC. “Yet, this ecosystem relies on globally distributed bitcoin miners like us.”

Bitcoin mining demands significant electricity consumption. Miners worldwide deploy robust computing systems to verify transactions and generate new tokens.

Miners frequently encounter hurdles in their quest for the most economical power sources, particularly amidst the volatile prices of cryptocurrencies.

Nevertheless, the recent upswing in Bitcoin’s value has revitalized interest in mining endeavors, rendering it more lucrative to sustain network operations.

Analysts anticipate a geographical reconfiguration of crypto mining post the recent halving event, as profit margins narrow. Nations boasting lower energy expenses, notably in Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East, are luring crypto miners.

This trend offers renewable energy developers in these regions a chance to leverage their surplus power reserves and bolster the burgeoning Bitcoin network.

Gridless’ Bitcoin Mining Operations Serve Dual Purpose

Gridless, founded by Hersman alongside co-founders Philip Walton and Janet Maingi, is on a mission to bridge Africa’s energy generation and capacity gap.

With an estimated 600 million individuals lacking access to electricity, the company’s Bitcoin mining activities serve a dual purpose. They tap into renewable energy sources that would otherwise remain untapped, simultaneously providing power to households and businesses in underserved regions.

The volcanic terrain where Gridless operates, famously known as Hell’s Gate, boasts a rich history and diverse wildlife. Geothermal power stations have been established in this area, harnessing the energy potential of volcanoes.

This approach isn’t exclusive to Kenya; countries like Iceland and El Salvador have also embraced geothermal energy for Bitcoin mining purposes.

Despite facing criticism for its energy consumption, Bitcoin mining, when coupled with renewable energy sources, can play a role in unlocking trapped renewable power and stimulating increased production.

Bitcoin miners serve as energy consumers, tapping into surplus power from renewable sources while providing financial incentives for further development.

Gridless, besides powering numerous households, has facilitated containerized cold storage for local farmers, charging stations for electric motorcycles, and public WiFi points. Through its mining operations, the company is not only making renewable energy economically feasible in Africa but also contributing to the secure functioning of the Bitcoin network.

“It’s not particularly glamorous,” Hersman noted. “It’s a mining container fashioned from a shipping container. It houses a collection of straightforward machines continually running the same equation. Yet, it’s crucial for securing the network.”

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I want to save money. Will cryptocurrency work?

Cryptocurrency is essentially virtual money that operates in a decentralized manner, not through a bank but directly on multiple independent computers.

Every cryptocurrency has two main components: the units of digital exchange called “coins” and the network within which the exchange takes place. These units can be transferred between wallets and exchanged on exchanges. The networks in which these coins exist are called blockchains, which translates to “chains of blocks.”

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