Ethereum, the well-known cryptocurrency, has shrunk energy consumption drastically since shifting to a proof-of-stake (PoS) consensus mechanism in late 2021. Prior to the change, the blockchain network’s energy use was akin to Switzerland’s annual electricity consumption.
The University of Cambridge’s Centre for Alternative Finance (CCAF) has analyzed Ethereum’s energy consumption from its inception in 2015 up until the recent move to PoS.
According to CCAF, Ethereum’s energy use totaled 58.26 Terawatt hours (TWh) during this period, while Switzerland’s annual electricity consumption sits at 54.88 TWh. In contrast, Bitcoin’s energy consumption is a staggering 143.9 TWh.
Environmental concerns have arisen in various sectors, including artists utilizing non-fungible token (NFT) technology on the Ethereum blockchain.
To address these concerns, CCAF introduced the Cambridge Blockchain Network Sustainability Index (CBNSI), which comprehensively analyzes Ethereum’s electricity use from historical and contemporary perspectives.
The transition to PoS slashed Ethereum’s energy consumption by over 99%. To illustrate the impact, CCAF compared the energy consumption of Ethereum, Bitcoin, and well-known structures.
In perspective, if Bitcoin’s energy consumption were symbolized by Kuala Lumpur’s Merdeka building, the second tallest building in the world at 678.9 meters, Ethereum’s previous proof-of-work mining system would be represented by the London Eye, a 135-meter-high observation wheel.
However, the switch to PoS has decreased Ethereum’s energy consumption. Ethereum’s energy consumption has decreased significantly. It is now as small as a raspberry. This is according to the Cambridge Center for Alternative Finance (CCAF).
CCAF Brings Clarity To Ethereum’s Energy Consumption
The CCAF has made considerable effort to enable people to use energy more conveniently. Alexander Neumüller, CCAF research lead for digital assets and energy consumption, explained the rationale behind using visual comparisons to describe energy use.
By offering relatable examples like the raspberry, the general public can better grasp these magnitudes without needing a deep understanding of energy notations.
Despite Ethereum’s energy consumption now being significantly lower than Bitcoin’s, CCAF refrains from declaring one algorithm superior to the other. Neumüller explained that PoS is not a flawless replacement for PoW, as each system has unique merits and challenges.
CCAF estimates that Ethereum will consume 6.56 GWh of electricity annually. The iconic Eiffel Tower consumes 6.70 gigawatt-hours of electricity annually. In contrast, the British Museum needs 14.48 GWh to maintain its power requirements.
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Evaluating Ethereum’s energy footprint is crucial. Projects such as the post-Merge initiative by ConsenSys aim to offset that debt. The Ethereum Climate Platform, a group of Web3 companies, is addressing the network’s environmental impact. They’re working on the offsetting process.