The landscape in Iceland is incredibly beautiful, but the soil is a disaster. Image by Jim Hedd via License: Creative Commons

Iceland’s Prime Minister announces plans to improve the island’s food security. One victim could be the miners who have made themselves comfortable in Iceland.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Iceland’s left-green Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir recently announced that she would prioritize food security over financial gains.

The world has become more hostile. Supply chains are breaking apart, wars are blocking trade, farmers are protesting across Europe. All of this is quite worrying for an island that is extremely reliant on imports for grains and vegetables. Jakobsdóttir therefore wants to improve security of supply and become more independent. In particular, corn will be grown, which is no small challenge due to the quality of the soil and weather and will probably require a significant amount of energy.

Iceland’s Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir. Image by NordForsk/Kim Wendt via wikimedia. License: Creative Commons

This could come with restrictions for miners. Because of its cheap, safe and green energy supply thanks to geothermal energy as well as hydro and wind power, Iceland has become a popular global destination for data centers and mining farms. According to an analysis, the miners use 120 megawatts of electricity, which is more than the households of the country with 375,000 inhabitants.

“Bitcoin is a global issue. But the data centers consume a significant proportion of our green energy,” said the Prime Minister. She plans to increase the amount of wind power available in Iceland, which is virtually unlimited, in order to make the country CO2-neutral. “Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, which consume a lot of energy, are not part of this mission.”

Jakobsdóttir is also reacting to the fact that the miners made themselves somewhat unpopular last winter. There had been a shortage of electricity, leaving the country’s fish factories no choice but to turn on oil and diesel generators. This, said Environment Minister Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarsonm, was “unacceptable”, clearly alluding to the miners.

There was already a debate about the role of miners last summer. Environmentalist Snæbjörn Guðmundsson called Bitcoin mining a “waste of energy that should not exist in the society we live in today.”

However, exactly how the government plans to restrict miners is not known. The English term in the interview “pure in” suggests that there should be no ban, but only control of the excesses. One could now think about requirements, for example that the heat generated during mining must be used to heat greenhouses, for example. Similar projects appear to be relatively successful in other Scandinavian countries.

It would also be conceivable that the miners only receive a limited amount of energy, or that their electricity is first throttled if there is a shortage. But you don’t know for sure. What we know is that Iceland’s head of government is no longer entirely happy with the miners, despite almost optimal conditions.


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