This year the energy consumption for mining bitcoin is expected to surpass energy consumption for powering all households in Iceland.
The major advantage setting up bitcoin mining farms in Iceland is the natural cooling for computer servers and competitive prices for renewable energy. The country with a population of just 340,000 is powered almost entirely by geothermal, hydroelectric and wind energy.
Mining data centers are specially designed to utilise steady wind powers, generated on the bare surface of peninsula and coastline. Partial walls on each side allow a draft of cold air to cool down the constantly working equipment.
Johann Snorri Sigurbergsson, a business development manager at the energy company Hitaveita Sudurnesja, told AP he expected Iceland’s virtual currency mining to double its energy consumption to around 100 megawatts this year.
“Four months ago, I could not have predicted this trend – but then bitcoin skyrocketed and we got a lot more emails,” Johann said at the Svartsengi geothermal energy plant, which powers mining farms on the south-western peninsula. “Just today, I came from a meeting with a mining company seeking to buy 18 megawatts.”
“What we are doing here is like gold mining,” said Helmut Rauth, who manages operations for Genesis Mining, a major bitcoin mining company. “We are mining on a large scale and getting the gold out to the people.”