A defunct hydro plant in Costa Rica is getting a new lease on life by powering crypto mining, and bringing clean energy to a rapidly expanding business.
More than 650 machines from 150 customers operate non-stop from this plant next to the Poás River, just outside of capital city San Jose.
Costa Rica generates nearly all its energy from green sources, where the state has a monopoly on energy distribution.
But the government stopped buying electricity due to surplus power in the country, forcing the plant to reinvent itself.
Eduardo Kooper is the owner of Data Center CR and the plant.
"We had a lot of power, but we did nothing with it. We had to pause activity for nine months. We looked for many alternatives - from making fried food, frozen food - everything that used a lot of energy. Just a year ago, someone told me about Bitcoin, blockchain, and digital mining."
Kooper, skeptical at first, learned that the crypto mining business requires a lot of energy, much of which comes from fossil fuels.
The company invested $500,000 to venture into hosting digital mining computers.
"Our market is the international miner who is looking for better conditions. That miner is looking for clean energy, cheap energy that is economically viable, and looking for internet connection, where he finds it is where that miner is going to go."
Data Center CR, with its three plants, is valued at $13.5 million.
So far, all of the company’s clients are local, but its goal is to reach international miners.
Costa Rica has been slow to adapt to new technologies, according to Kooper, unlike El Salvador, which became the first country in the world to adopt Bitcoin as legal tender in September 2021.
“By bringing the machine here and hosting it, we, in essence, can provide much cheaper power. That's essentially what we're doing, so the energy is clean, green, and cheaper."