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Iceland's bitcoin mines 'could pinch all the power'

Iceland's bitcoin mines 'could pinch all the power'

"If all these projects are realised, we won't have enough energy for it", Sigurbergsson tells the BBC.

Johann Snorri Sigurbergsson, business development manager at the energy company Hitaveita Sudurnesja, said he forecasts Iceland's cryptocurrency mining to double the country's energy consumption up to 100 megawatts this year. Iceland is an attractive place for Bitcoin data centers to build because almost 100 percent of its energy comes from renewable sources.

Sigurbergsson noted: "What we're seeing now is ... you can nearly call it exponential growth, I think, in the [energy] consumption of data centres".

Iceland is one of the best places on Earth to mine Bitcoin, thanks in part to its cold climate, which naturally helps keep hardware from overheating and cuts down on costs associated with air condition and cooling systems.

He added: "I don't see it stopping quite yet".

By contrast, he estimated that Iceland's homes use around 700 gigawatt hours every year.

According to experts, there are no grounds to predict any decline of interest of foreign companies in establishing their data centres in Iceland.

Helmut Rauth, who oversees the operation at a large Bitcoin mining company based in Iceland called Genesis Mining, was quoted by the Associated Press as saying that: "What we [cryptocurrency miners] are doing here is like gold mining".

It has previously been reported that the electricity demand of the world's total combined Bitcoin mining operations may now exceed the energy use of the Republic of Ireland, though this calculation may not be entirely accurate.

The cryptocurrency mining's new growth in the island nation has prompted a lawmaker for Iceland's Pirate Party, Smari McCarthy, to propose taxing the profits of the sector.

"Under normal circumstances, companies that are creating value in Iceland pay a certain amount of tax to the government", McCarthy explained.

The Pirate Party now holds 6 seats out of 63 in the Althing, Iceland's parliament, meaning that the party alone is unlikely to succeed in pursuing any kind of bitcoin mining tax on its own.

Now one of the most popular destinations for bitcoin mining could be facing the same problem as large cryptocurrency miners pile in to take advantage of the island's abundant geothermal and hydroelectric power plants.

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