Step Inside the World’s Most Unusual Crypto-Mining Computer Farms

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A bitcoin mining plant in Québec, Canada.Photo: Lars Hagberg

Though New York is relatively new to the crypto mining scene, other parts of the world capitalized on it early. Enigma, owned and established by Genesis Mining, for instance, opened within a complex of nondescript metal buildings less than two miles away from Iceland’s Reykjavik airport. And it’s one of the biggest bitcoin mining operations in the world. It may seem like a random place for a large-scale computer farm, especially considering how popular the area is to tourists, but the frigid city actually makes for a perfect spot for crypto mining. Iceland has an impressive abundance of water and heat trapped underground—both of which are excellent sources of hydroelectric and geothermal power.

Since its inception more than a decade ago, bitcoin has been under quite a bit of fire for guzzling an almost appalling amount of energy—more globally than all of Argentina in one year. But harnessing alternative energies for the mining process is making bitcoin way more attractive to countries like El Salvador, which is building an entire city based on volcano-powered bitcoin mines.

El Salvador is the first country to build a bitcoin city using volcanic energy. Photo: Alex Peña/Getty Images

Another international city whose unforgiving weather conditions are proving to be quite useful is Moscow, where the country’s largest bitcoin mine, in ​​Bratsk, is producing a lot of energy cheaply and effectively. The data center, BitRiver, is near the world’s largest aluminum plant and takes advantage of the readily available power supply. Not to mention, the freezing temperatures are ideal for data centers’ equipment of this scale to run efficiently. That said, these specific conditions aren’t exactly a prerequisite for a massive computer farm to run successfully. Other mines exist in Washington, which boasts the cheapest power in the U.S., Linthal, Switzerland, and Amsterdam.

The biggest—and perhaps the only—requirement for a cryptocurrency-specific mine is a lot of space, which is why these computer farms haven’t started popping up in densely populated cities like New York and London. But the key to expanding mining around the world is environmentalism. Crypto mining requires an excessive amount of energy, so carrying out the industrial activity in a way that doesn’t hinder the world’s efforts to lessen the negative impacts of human activity on the environment is perhaps the only way to do it.

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