A circular bitcoin economy in Guatemala is using resources that would otherwise be wasted to power a local bitcoin mining operation, giving its residents financial autonomy and demonstrating a viable economic path out of the government-controlled economy.
Patrick Melder, MD, founder of the circular economy coined “Bitcoin lakeHe told Bitcoin Magazine that he did Bitcoin mining project “Kaboom”. is the result of a desire to help clean up nearby Lake Atitlán while providing a source of ongoing income for the community.
“We don’t have an endowment or a major donation to do what we’re doing,” he said, underscoring a stark difference from El Salvador’s Bitcoin Beach, which was established in part through a donation. “Bitcoin mining was a way to get bitcoin flowing in the community.”
Before this project there had been many attempts to clean up the lake, most of which suffered from the flaw of trying to solve everything at once. According to Melder, a review approach increases complexity and ends up reducing the likelihood of completion.
“Over the past five years, a major effort to clean up the lake that cost more than $300 million failed because it was so complex with so many large stakeholders that they couldn’t agree on a solution,” he added. .
Bitcoin Lake took a different approach by starting small by repurposing used cooking oil to power bitcoin mining ASICs.
“This cooking oil would either be dumped on the street or find its way to the landfill that is several hundred meters above Lake Atitlán,” Melder explained. “Either way, it would find its way into the watershed and into the lake.”
By launching this initiative, Melder said he hopes to trigger a snowball effect in neighboring communities as they realize that cleaning up the environment can not only be feasible but also cost-effective.
“All community leaders and citizens of the lake are concerned about the environment, but there are limited tools and resources to deal with the problem. So our goal is to create a “sliding scale” use of wasted/stranded energy to mine bitcoins and in the process clean up the lake and create wealth in communities. It’s a sliding scale because in a small community, we can simply have a ‘Kaboom-like’ project or we can have small biodigesters that collect waste.”
Melder used to travel with her family to the city of Panajachel, Guatemala, every summer during her daughters’ undergraduate years, but after she graduated from college, those trips to the Central American country ended. However, Melder and his wife kept looking for ways to give back. It wasn’t long until he found out about Bitcoin Beach in El Salvador, which eventually inspired him to travel once again to Panajachel and start Bitcoin Lake.
“My desire was to bring the Bitcoin Beach model to Panajachel, which is a beautiful city on Lake Atitlan in the highlands of Guatemala,” he wrote in a 2021 blog post detailing his vision for the project.
In addition to cleaning up the lake, Melder detailed in this blog post the other goals that Bitcoin Lake would set out to achieve from the start, including helping a local educational center and creating economic opportunities for the “small but vibrant city of Guatemala.” . Since then, Bitcoin has been at the forefront of the project’s work.
“Everything we do in the community is related to bitcoin. It’s either funded by bitcoin, taught about bitcoin, or taught or implemented by bitcoiners,” Melder told Bitcoin Magazine. “Our three goals in the community are to teach about bitcoin, create a circular bitcoin economy, and clean up the environment with bitcoin mining as an economic incentive.”
While Bitcoin Lake addresses the latter, the other two goals have not been abandoned. On the education side, the project has helped introduce Bitcoin-related courses at the local Centro Educativo Josué educational center.
“Kids there are taught all aspects of Bitcoin, from ‘what is money?’, ‘what is inflation?’, ‘why was bitcoin created’, to the basics of bitcoin mining , the setup of a full bitcoin node, etc.,” detailed Melder. “We are proud to say that we have been doing this since January 2022 developing our own curriculum along the way and have had Bitcoiners from all over the world helping us.”
The work that began at the local school has since proliferated to a wider audience in the city, Melder said, in an attempt to help people of all ages learn more about the world of digital money. among equals
“We’ve held bitcoin educational meetings for adults and business people in the community, and we’ve made an effort to include indigenous community leaders as well,” he said.
With a better understanding of the technology, adoption becomes easier as users and business owners are not caught off guard or forced to use bitcoin. Rather, it starts a movement, naturally.
“Since we started in January of this year, we have incorporated more than 60 companies in and around Panajachel, and in Guatemala as a whole we have about 200 companies that we have incorporated to accept bitcoin,” Melder explained.
As Bitcoin awareness grows and adoption continues to increase, the community is poised to continue expanding its initiatives. In terms of mining, Melder hopes to further develop the reuse of wasted and stranded resources to increase the community’s ongoing income and further improve the efficiency of cleaning the lake.
“Our environmental cleanup/Bitcoin mining initiative has just started, but will grow to the point in about a year where we can actually take unsorted landfill waste (new or old) and turn it into a source of ‘clean energy to mine bitcoin,’ Melder predicted. “We are working with a group from the UK to bring this to life and it will have a major impact in Panajachel and Guatemala as we now have a financial incentive to clean up the huge waste problem in Guatemala and most countries in development. We are proud to be the first to commercialize this technology.”