Crypto users should not worry about their carbon footprint, if they turn to these eco-friendly blockchain solutions
Sustainability is a cornerstone of crypto adoption. Bitcoin would have long been widely accepted as a means of payment if not for its energy-intensive mining process.
While one would need to plant a huge number of 431.6 million trees in order to offset Bitcoin’s negative annual impact, there are other blockchains that function without harming the environment.
As governments and businesses across the globe are doing their best to meet the Paris Agreement climate-change goals, the crypto industry isn’t standing aside. In 2022, the sector saw advancement of green crypto projects as more blockchain companies focused on sustainability aimed to reduce carbon emissions.
While some blockchains like Ethereum or Polygon have reduced their carbon emissions with structural changes, others prefer using financial incentives to offset their environmental impact.
Here are the most sustainable and energy-effective blockchains contributing to a greener world.
One of the most eco-friendly cryptocurrencies on the market today is Stellar, which requires just 0.0003 kWh per transaction. Stellar also costs less than a cent per transaction.
The blockchain uses the Stellar Consensus Protocol (SCP), a low-energy consensus mechanism achieved through Proof-of-Agreement (PoA). PoA allows network nodes to achieve consensus with the help of a very fast series of messages. The entire process takes about 5 seconds and consumes little energy.
Chia’s unique approach to lower carbon emissions is a novel proof-of-space-and-time (PoST) protocol. The model allows an unused hard disc drive (HDD) or a solid-state drive (SSD) storage space to be replaced with hashing power.
The network validates transactions in a process known as farming, and allocates users’ empty computer storage space into plots. Thus, to farm Chia, you can use a PC or laptop of any kind. Besides, Chia’s native crypto can be farmed via cloud computing and data storage platforms such as Amazon Web Services.
As farmers provide storage space, the network allocates mining privileges based on randomly generated numbers assigned to each space. This algorithmic formula gives more random numbers to farmers with the most storage space, providing them with more winning chances.
The drawback of Chia’s farming model is that it can quickly wear down hard drives, which questions the reported sustainability.
The blockchain, chosen to support an “innovative digital guarantees platform” operating in Italy’s banking and insurance segments, is also one of the sustainable alternatives to energy-intensive Bitcoin.
Algorand claims to be “a green blockchain with an environmental impact focus from the very beginning”. In 2021, it partnered with ClimateTrade to improve the efficiency of sustainability efforts. ClimateTrade provides a marketplace where users can directly offset their carbon footprint by selecting the most suitable carbon credits available, and earn the official certificate.
Algorand does not only power this global marketplace but has also implemented a sustainability oracle to notarise its own carbon footprint on-chain for each epoch. Algorand then locks the equivalent amount of carbon credit as an ASA (Algorand Standard Asset) into a green treasury so that its protocol keeps running as carbon-negative.
In 2020, Ripple partnered with Energy Web (EW) and the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) to decarbonise public blockchains — starting with its proprietary XRP Ledger. It reached a carbon-neutral milestone in October 2020. Moreover, the company pledged to achieve carbon net zero by 2030 or sooner.
At the time, XRP transactions required 0.0079 kWh, which is little compared to 707 kWh used by Bitcoin. The XRPL uses a Federated Consensus protocol to manage transactions, minimising the energy consumption.
Ripple has also committed to the Crypto Climate Accord (CCA) initiative organised by EW, RMI and the Alliance for Innovation Regulation (AIR) to make the cryptocurrency industry 100% renewable.
Solana uses the low-intensity PoS consensus mechanism to validate transactions and can theoretically process over 60,000 transactions per second. In addition, it employs another novel mechanism called proof-of-history (PoH).
This mechanism creates a timestamp to prove an event has occurred at a specific time. Therefore, the network can focus on validating current transactions without requesting past temporal claims from nodes.
The network reached carbon neutrality for the first time in 2021 by joining a carbon offset program. The blockchain partnered with Watershed Climate to offset emissions by funding refrigerant destruction. This process involves incentivising the proper disposal of CFCs, which permanently eliminates them.
In 2022, Solana received a good carbon rating from the Crypto Carbon Ratings Institute (CCRI) for consuming the lowest energy at a rate of 0.166 watt-hours per transaction.
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