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Gridless, a Bitcoin mining company supported by Block, establishes operations at a volcano site in Kenya.

In early 2022, the trio behind Gridless, Erik Hersman, Philip Walton, and Janet Maingi, brainstormed creative solutions for the energy gap in Africa. They saw an opportunity in bitcoin mining to help utilize stranded power and expand access to electricity in underserved regions. With Africa having significant untapped renewable energy potential, the idea was to repurpose this energy for mining operations.

Decentralization is a fundamental aspect of bitcoin, ensuring that the network remains resilient and uncensored. Bitcoin mining, powered by proof-of-work consensus, involves miners globally validating transactions and creating new tokens. The energy-intensive nature of mining has led companies like Gridless to seek out renewable energy sources to power their operations.

One of the challenges in Africa has been the lack of access to electricity, with around 43% of the population lacking this basic service. Gridless aims to address this issue by utilizing renewable sources like solar and geothermal energy to power their mining facilities in Kenya, Malawi, and Zambia. By collaborating with renewable energy providers, Gridless ensures that excess energy is efficiently utilized, benefiting both the miners and the local communities.

Turning lava into bitcoin

Located near Hell’s Gate National Park in Kenya, Gridless operates a bitcoin mining facility powered by geothermal energy from an extinct volcano site. This innovative approach to mining is not unique to Kenya, as countries like Iceland and El Salvador have also harnessed geothermal power for bitcoin mining. By leveraging the abundant and cheap energy from volcanic sources, Gridless can efficiently run their mining operations while contributing to sustainability efforts.

The partnership between energy providers and bitcoin miners in Africa has a dual benefit. Miners get access to affordable and renewable energy sources, while energy suppliers can monetize surplus energy that would have otherwise gone to waste. This synergy creates a win-win situation, where renewable energy is utilized effectively, and communities benefit from increased access to electricity.

Gridless’s mission goes beyond just mining bitcoin; it includes empowering local communities by providing electricity to thousands of households in Kenya, Malawi, and Zambia. Through innovative solutions like containerized cold storage, battery charging stations, and public WiFi points, Gridless is positively impacting the lives of people in these regions.

The future of bitcoin mining in Africa looks promising, with companies like Gridless leading the way in sustainable and community-focused operations. By tapping into the continent’s abundant renewable energy sources, bitcoin mining is not just about securing the network but also about driving economic growth and development in underserved communities.

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