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KenGen offers geothermal power to bitcoin miners

Kenya’s energy production company KenGen wants to offer bitcoin mining companies its surplus geothermal power to help them meet their energy needs.

KenGen, which generates most of its power from renewables, said miners have been reaching out about buying its energy. The company has not provided any more details, but given there are no bitcoin mining firms in Africa, those that approached it are believed to be from the US and Europe. The plan is to have miners set up in an energy park at the company’s main geothermal power station in Olkaria, Naivasha, 123 km from the capital Nairobi.

“We have the space and the power is near, which helps with stability,” Peketsa Mwangi, KenGen’s geothermal development director, said.

Carbon emissions

The move could be a step in addressing the escalating carbon emissions from crypto mining, whose energy use rivals that of whole countries. Kenya is Africa’s top geothermal energy producer with an installed capacity of 863 MW, most of which is supplied by KenGen. The country has an estimated geothermal potential of 10,000 MW spread along the Rift Valley circuit.

Overall, 80% of KenGen’s power generation comes from renewable sources, including hydro and wind in addition to geothermal, but the company does not disclose its excess power capacity. Mwangi said power requests from miners have varied so far. “Some have requested to start with 20 MW and upscale later.”

Bitcoin production consumes 204.50 terawatt-hours of electricity annually, comparable to the power consumption of Thailand, and is estimated to generate between 22 and 22.9 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions a year. At 35%, the US now accounts for the largest share of global bitcoin mining after China banned crypto.

Ether, the second largest cryptocurrency, uses as much electricity as the Netherlands. However, the Ethereum blockchain has adopted the proof-of-stake system, which it believes reduces its energy consumption by 99%.

KenGen says by offering clean energy, it will contribute to the reduction of carbon emissions caused by bitcoin mining. The Kenyan government, meanwhile, is considering creating a central bank digital currency, but maintains its stance against crypto trade because of the scams that arise from it.

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