Although the cryptocurrency industry has been over a decade in operations, the concept of sustainable cryptocurrency mining and practices is one that has raised concerns globally, thanks to the environmental impact of crypto mining. Green crypto refers to those cryptocurrencies whose mining relies on renewable energy, such as
- Hydroelectric power.
The high energy consumption of Bitcoin mining is currently largely sustained by non-renewable energy sources with negative environmental impacts. This has led to collaborations between engineers, developers, and researchers to design blockchains and energy systems that promote sustainability without compromising the quality of blockchain technology.
Here, you’ll understand the concept of green cryptocurrencies, the current state, and the future of green crypto mining.
Understanding Green Cryptocurrencies
The concept of green energy has been around for decades, resulting in global efforts to reduce the carbon footprint and stem the impact of human activities on the environment. In the cryptocurrency industry, ‘green cryptocurrencies’ is a term used for those blockchains and cryptocurrencies that use sustainable technology and renewable energy sources.
They are digital currencies designed to be more eco-friendly than traditional cryptocurrencies as they use less energy and resources. There are three key distinguishing characteristics of green cryptos:
- Low energy consumption: green blockchains typically consume far less energy than Bitcoin thanks to the innovation of energy-efficient mining protocols such as the proof-of-stake (PoS) consensus mechanism.
- Transparency: traditional cryptocurrencies are energy-intensive, and this makes it difficult to track their energy consumption. In fact, only estimates are possible for Bitcoin’s energy consumption, but green blockchains are more transparent and easier to track. Miners can track the energy consumption of green cryptos at any time.
- Renewable energy: green crypto mining relies on green energy sources instead of carbon energy. This significantly reduces the carbon emissions of crypto mining with the potential to achieve net zero emissions in the crypto industry.
There are also three main technologies that make green crypto sustainable:
- Proof-of-Stake (PoS): PoS is a consensus mechanism that requires cryptocurrency holders to stake their coins in order to validate transactions. PoS is more energy-efficient than proof-of-work (PoW).
- Delegated Proof-of-Stake (DPoS): DPoS is a variation of PoS that allows users to delegate their stake to a validator. In that way, miners can reduce energy consumption by making it easier for other miners to participate and aggregate their work.
- Energy-efficient mining hardware: green cryptos also use energy-efficient miners to improve the work rate while keeping energy consumption at a minimum.
The adoption of sustainable crypto mining is expected to increase globally.
Environmental Impact of Traditional Cryptocurrency Mining
The Bitcoin blockchain mostly uses the proof-of-work (PoW) consensus after Ethereum completed its move to the PoS consensus mechanism. PoW requires miners to solve complex mathematical equations to validate transactions and earn rewards and is an energy-intensive mechanism responsible for most of the carbon emissions of the cryptocurrency industry.
The energy consumption and environmental impact of traditional crypto mining operations are serious environmental issues. The carbon footprint of Bitcoin mining is estimated at 60 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year. This is equivalent to the emissions of Greece in the same period. Bitcoin mining is also estimated to consume around 130 terawatt-hours (TWh) of electricity annually, around the same as Norway and Argentina.
Crypto mining significantly affects the environment; its high energy consumption contributes to some of the environmental issues today. These are:
- Climate change: Bitcoin’s annual carbon footprint and energy consumption contribute to climate change and are commonly criticized for their negative impact on global efforts to save the environment. Bitcoin mining consumes more energy than some small countries and may be unsustainable in the long run.
- Water consumption: water is required in large volumes for cooling systems used in Bitcoin mining rigs. Although many miners are switching to immersion cooling, the water consumption rate is still high, contributing to the global depletion of scarce water resources.
- Air pollution: the high energy consumption of PoW mining is another contributing factor to air pollution. The cooling process for mining rigs may lead to the release of harmful pollutants. There’s also the issue of noise and heat pollution, as Bitcoin miners (ASICs) produce a lot of noise and heat.
- Efficiency: Although Bitcoin mining uses a lot of electricity, the overall efficiency is low, as only a small percent of it goes into validating transactions. The rest are wasted on miners providing hash rates but not being successful at validating transactions.
Sustainable energy crypto is achievable. Here are some ways to reduce the environmental impact of crypto mining:
- Switching to more efficient mining hardware to improve mining performance.
- Using renewable energy for mining.
- Optimizing mining operations to reduce energy and resource consumption.
- Mining regulations that address harmful practices and wastage.
Green crypto currency mining is the future; solutions to address these issues will improve the general reception of crypto mining globally.
Sustainable Mining Practices
There are several proposals for measures and practices to implement green cryptocurrency as a principle. But of all practices, only three meet the requirement of reducing the energy burden while retaining the stability and performance standard of blockchains. These are:
- Use of reliable energy: many countries are investing in reliable energy today for cheaper and cleaner electricity. Crypto miners adopt reliable energy to reduce the carbon footprint of mining activities and make the process sustainable.
- Energy-efficient hardware: the use of mining hardware that uses less energy to perform the same amount of work reduces the energy burden.
- Switch to alternative consensus mechanisms: proof-of-stake (PoS) and proof-of-authority (PoA) are excellent choices for cryptocurrency sustainability as they greatly reduce the energy consumption of blockchains by requiring miners to stake fund (PoS) or provide proof of their authorization to validate blocks (PoA).
The adoption of sustainable mining practices begins with the design of blockchains. New blockchains are designed to run alternative consensus mechanisms either individually or using hybrid systems. Some older blockchains, such as Ethereum, have completely switched their mining algorithms to those that support sustainable mining.
The process of upgrading a blockchain to become sustainable may not be feasible, considering the network activities and structure. The process is often considered to have a 50% chance of success. Older blockchains can instead focus on adopting renewable energy for mining.
Green Cryptocurrencies in Action
How can we crypto green? There are several green cryptocurrencies in the market today, from tokens that power green projects to blockchains that use alternative consensus mechanisms.
- SolarCoin Classic: SolarCoin Classic is a cryptocurrency created to facilitate the adoption of solar energy globally. The coin uses the PoW consensus mechanism but is designed to be more energy-efficient than Bitcoin. SolarCoin Classic miners are rewarded with SolarCoin tokens for every megawatt hour of solar energy they generate.
- Chia: Chia is a cryptocurrency that uses a proof-of-space consensus mechanism instead of proof-of-work.
- Hedera Hashgraph: Hadera Hashgraph is a distributed ledger technology that uses a unique consensus mechanism called a hashgraph. Hashgraph is much more energy efficient than proof-of-work or proof-of-stake and can process transactions much faster.
- Minery: Minery is a cryptocurrency mining hosting company that provides one of the best Bitcoin hosting services. Minery uses renewable energy for mining cryptocurrencies.
Benefits and Challenges of Green Cryptocurrencies
The idea of having environmentally friendly cryptocurrencies is not just great for the environment but also makes a strong case for the mainstream adoption of cryptocurrencies globally. Here are some benefits of green cryptocurrencies:
- Reduction of global carbon footprint: as more blockchains adopt green mining practices, the carbon emissions of the cryptocurrency industry will reduce, and this will reflect on the total carbon emissions globally. This is an important plus in the fight against climate change and its effects. Crypto miners can play a part in saving the environment without compromising on the stability and functionality of blockchains.
- Reduced e-waste: renewable energy and green mining use less hardware compared to traditional crypto mining. This reduces the amount of e-waste from green mining rigs globally.
- Reduced consumption of energy: the use of energy-efficient systems reduces electricity consumption. This is a significant environmental benefit, as the energy consumption of cryptocurrency mining is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions.
- Increased use of renewable energy: Green cryptocurrencies and sustainable mining practices increase the use of renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind power. This can help to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and mitigate climate change
Some challenges facing the adoption of the greenest crypto are:
- Lack of adoption: Green cryptocurrencies are still not as widely adopted as traditional cryptocurrencies. This is because they are often seen as being less secure or less profitable.
- High start-up costs: The start-up costs for setting up a green cryptocurrency or sustainable mining operation can be high. This is because these methods often require specialized hardware or software.
- Technical challenges: scalability is the main challenge in this regard. Green cryptocurrencies are largely less scalable than traditional cryptocurrencies.
The adoption of green crypto mining will keep the crypto industry relevant and attractive in the long run while keeping mining costs low.
Green Cryptocurrencies: Paving the Way for a Sustainable Future
Green cryptocurrency refers to sustainable crypto mining and other practices that make cryptocurrency safe for the environment and reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions. The potential benefits are immense, starting with a reduction in the crypto mining carbon footprint globally and an increased dependence on renewable energy.
As more blockchains and miners adopt renewable solutions, the crypto industry will be able to scale operations and costs to improve profit margins. Sustainable crypto mining will also increase the adoption of green coins crypto and encourage favorable government policies. As of now, many governments are concerned about Bitcoin’s energy consumption. Several countries have created strict crypto mining regulations for that reason.
Future technologies that improve on the energy efficiency mining machines and the consensus algorithms of blockchains will be key in promoting sustainable crypto practices globally. Green cryptocurrencies will also see increased usage in powering renewable energy projects.