Stablecoin issuer Tether (USDT) has reached into its own war chest to invest in El Salvador’s $1 billion renewable energy project to help drive Bitcoin (BTC) adoption in the Central American nation.
The firm responsible for issuing USDT across cryptocurrency markets is one of a handful of companies investing in El Salvador’s renewable power generation project. Volcano Energy is set to generate electricity from solar and wind energy in El Salvador to power future Bitcoin mining operations in the country.
The planned 241-megawatt (MW) renewable energy park is the latest move in El Salvador’s Bitcoin adoption drive after the country made BTC legal tender back in 2021.
Cointelegraph caught up with Tether CTO Paolo Ardoino during Money 20/20 in Amsterdam in June 2023. Attending the renowned finance and payments convention promoting Bitfinex Pay and Bitcoin layer 2 Lightning Network, Ardoino delved into a number of topics concerning Tether, Bitfinex and the wider cryptocurrency space.
Just two days prior to the interview, Tether announced that it would be investing in Volcano Energy to gain exposure to energy production and leverage that facility to power Bitcoin mining farms in the future.
There is also an ideological element to the move, with Ardoino stressing his belief that El Salvador is blazing the trail for sovereign Bitcoin adoption despite relatively slow uptake of BTC as a payment option in the country.
Ardoino drew parallels to the European Union adopting the euro as a continental currency in the early 2000s, which required significant resource to change existing financial infrastructure as well as buy in from citizens of its 27 member states.
“Given all the powers that they had, it still took five, six years, and yet people were super confused.”
The proliferation of Bitcoin as a payments method in El Salvador has had some teething problems, as explored by Cointelegraph journalist Joe Hall in a recent visit to the country using BTC as a primary means of payment.
Ardoino contends that the path to widespread BTC use and adoption in El Salvador will take time, primarily considering that citizens are not being forced to use the alternative currency in their everyday lives:
“It’s extremely unfair to expect that the whole population will use Bitcoin because first of all, it’s not forced. Adoption is through private companies and public investments, rather than being taxpayer money.”
Tether’s investment into the country’s energy production programme is part of a two-fold strategy. Firstly, investing in energy producing infrastructure holds its own value which can then be utilized to power Bitcoin mining operations.
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Ardoino also contended with prevailing narratives around the environmental impact of Bitcoin mining and critique against the industry putting a strain on the global energy grid:
“Firstly, the majority of Bitcoin mining is already happening with renewable energy. Secondly, Bitcoin mining is mainly using excess energy anyway, but even more so if we first build the energy production.”
Ardoino said Tether’s investment alongside a group of 12 investors aims to build an energy production facility which companies, factories and households can also tap into. The excess energy from Volcano Energy will used for BTC mining to help make El Salvador a ‘unicorn with its own unique story’.
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