Soluna Blockchain Firm Creates Controversy With a Bitcoin Mining Project in New York
U.S Blockchain Firm Creates Controversy With a Project in Western Sahara
Blockchain and virtual currency companies have been involved in controversies several times in the past. And this is now the case of the New York-based company known as Soluna Technologies. The company is now experiencing some critics because of a political conflict that is taking place in the Western Sahara region.
Soluna Technologies had a plan to start a project that combined renewable energy and blockchain computing. The intention was to develop a 900 MW wind farm close to the African city of Dakhla.
The mining farm aimed to mine cryptocurrencies using renewable energy, making it a more environmentally sustainable economic activity. Indeed, this is what John Belizaire, chief executive of Soluna, explained:
“Our vision is to power the blockchain with clean, renewable energy.”
The plant was going to be located in an area with consistent winds. The computing facility would have a cost of $100 million dollars and take over five years to be completed.
The announcement of the project generated a big controversy. Some activists campaigning for Western Saharan independence said that Moroccan authorities have no right to grant licenses for these kinds of projects.
The city of Dakhla is located in a region that is ‘under foreign military occupation.’ Agreements signed by the company with the Moroccan government in the area are null, explains Sara Eyckmans, coordinator for Western Sahara Resource Watch (WSRW).
According to Belizaire, the firm is ‘aware’ of the political conflicts that are now affecting the region. But as he says, the agreements and investments that are being made by the company are legal.
About this situation he explained:
“We have and will continue to conduct our activities in strict accordance with the governing laws of the region. We are also conscientious of the importance of ensuring our project is aligned with the principles that the interest of the inhabitants of these territories is paramount.”
The company said that it plans to allocate 1% of the revenues it will generate from the plant to fund programs such as schools. The intention is to create a community with trained resources in blockchain computing.
The conflict persists and activists are asking Soluna to rethink their initiative and investment plane in the region. It is important highlight that Soluna’s site will be developed as an off-grid power facility but could be integrated to the national grid in 2019.
Morocco has developed different renewable energy sources in the last years and the intention is to keep increasing that number in the future.