Bitcoin Miners Unphased by Icelands Cold Shoulder as Energy Demand Mounts

Iceland kicks back against bitcoin miningIceland's most recent beef with bitcoin miners involves power generation expansion needs. | Source: Shutterstock

By CCN: Iceland has been a hotbed for bitcoin mining for years, fueled by its cheap geothermal power. However, the Nordic island nation is pumping the brakes on more crypto mining as it seeks to thwart accelerating energy demand.

Last year, Icelandic authorities targeted crypto miners for higher taxes amid the industrys huge electricity consumption. Now, it seems that a growing organic movement within the country sees mining expansion as a potential environmental hazard, too.

Bitcoin miners are increasingly viewed as an existential threat to Icelands unrivaled and largely untouched countryside, according to an Al-Jazeera special report. A coalition of environmentalists, researchers, and activists oppose the growth of what was until recently touted as a job-creating industry of the future. Iceland is in a conundrum, however, as bitcoin miners show little sign of slowing down.

Icelands Geothermal Perfect Storm

Icelands unique North Atlantic location is home to a nexus of geothermal activity, which makes geothermal power generation extremely easy and cheap relative to global electricity prices. Consequently, crypto miners have identified Europes Scandinavian region – Iceland in particular – as a bitcoin mining goldmine. Apart from cheap power, naturally-low temperatures are also appealing. This makes cooling mining rigs much easier and cheaper, further enhancing profit in a tight-margin business.

For years, the accepted narrative within the cryptosphere has been that using renewable energy in bitcoin mining cancels out the notorious talking point that bitcoin mining is environmentally unfriendly due to the size of the carbon footprint. However, Icelandic environmentalists note that rising electricity demand for mining activities is leading to an expansion of geothermal and hydroelectric power generation infrastructure.

As they point out, the process of creating clean energy is not so green, after all. For one thing, constructing new hydroelectric dams alters landscapes and topography irreversibly by sinking virgin countryside and changing the nature of rivers and waterfalls. Geothermal power stations must be constructed over natural hot spring areas to access the heat coming out of the earths core. This also permanently alters Icelands untouched landscape.

Environmentalist Tomas Gudbartsson is quoted in Al Jazeera as saying:

Iceland still has one of the biggest wilderness areas in Europe. We will simply destroy these areas if we continue.

Icelands Bitcoin Mining Risk Factors

The trouble for Icelandic environmentalists is that crypto minin ...

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Tags: Iceland, Miner, Mining, Energy, Bitcoin network, Al Jazeera, Demand, geothermal power, Atlantic Ocean, world energy consumption