The recent coronavirus pandemic has brought back attention towards maintaining a cordial relationship with our environment. In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, the whole world has come to a standstill as roads become empty and factories shut down.
While the pandemic for sure has created a sense of uncertainty, it has also given a pause to mother nature from constant carbon emission and pollution which in turn has resulted in clearer skies and improved conditions for our ozone layer.
While the world will not be the same once we get past these troubled times, its time for some introspection and how we take our environment for granted.
Blockchain and Cryptocurrencies are going to play a pivotal role in the financial future, and thus sustainability should be a top priority for the decentralized space as well. Ripple, one of the key players in the decentralized space, is at the forefront of this initiative where its University Blockchain Research Initiative (UBRI), in association with the University of Waterloo is looking into ways that cryptocurrency can be made more sustainable.
Professor Hasan and Research Associate Crystal Roma along with their team recently published a research paper on the cost of running an XRP Validator node.
The research found that running one for a year would cost around $63, which was a great contrast to the fact that mining a single Bitcoin cost anywhere between $531 to $26,170. Professor Hasan noted that:
“Energy consumption is a big issue for blockchain, and it’s important that we identify better alternatives that can replace Proof-of-work algorithms.”
Bitcoin and the Environmental Woes Associated With PoW Based Mining
Bitcoin is certainly the king of cryptocurrencies, be it in terms of monetary value, its market cap or market dominance.
However, being such a prominent name also bring a lot of criticism along with it and while there have been many controversies associated with the king coin including its scalability and price volatility issue, the most prominent one is the label of being not so environment-friendly primarily because of its mining consensus Proof-of-Work.
The debate around high electricity consumption for mining Bitcoin, and its respective carbon footprint, arose during the last quarter of 2018. It’s estimated that the amount of electricity consumed in the bitcoin mining process is equivalent to the energy footprint equivalent to the size of a country like Austria.
Experts have since debunked the allegations of having a massive carbon footprint, claiming a majority of the power utilized to mine Bitcoins come from clean source energy, however, there is no denying the fact that Bitcoin mining does consume a significantly high portion of electricity without any direct output of that consumption.
While in many cold countries, miners have modified their mining rigs to use it as a modified thermostat, yet the concerns loom large.
Proof-of-Work mining consensus is considered the most secure consensus at present as it requires multiple miners to input their hashpower to mine the next block, making it difficult for hackers to gain control over the network.
On the other hand, Proof-of-Stake the second-most popular mining consensus select a miner on the network based on their on-chain activity and thus instead of hundreds of miners putting in their hashpower, which in turn leads to a lot of wastage of electrical energy, only the selected one mines the block.