Cryptocurrency ethereum plans to cut carbon emissions by 99% with upgrade

Ethereum, the second-largest cryptocurrency, will complete a plan to reduce its carbon emissions by more than 99% over the next month, the foundation that controls the platform has confirmed.

The project, called “the merger,” will see Ethereum switch from the underlying technology it uses to validate crypto transactions to a new process that requires less energy to manage.

Once completed, the merger will end the role of “miners” in the Ethereum ecosystem, helping to significantly reduce electricity consumption. These users run massive amounts of powerful, specially designed technologies all day, every day, to generate random numbers that affect the security of the entire network.

The energy consumption of Ethereum mining is currently estimated at around 72 terawatt hours per year, according to Alex de Vries, a Dutch economist who runs the Digiconomist site. This is comparable to the electricity consumption of Colombia, with a carbon footprint equivalent to that of Switzerland.

The change will lead the platform to move away from a “proof of work” process, which requires cryptocurrency miners to generate random numbers to verify records stored on the blockchain – the technology behind the digital currencies such as ethereum and the most popular bitcoin.

Ethereum will instead use a “proof of stake” process, in which the network will be secured by users who “stake” sums of the cryptocurrency, pledging to act honestly or risk losing it.

De Vries said the switchover would eliminate the majority of electricity consumption. “They could cut off a lot of their electricity demand. I’ll work to quantify this more precisely, but a reduction of at least 99% (probably even 99.9%) should be achievable. This translates to something like the electricity consumption of a country like Portugal (a quarter of all data centers in the world combined) disappearing overnight. »

The proof-of-stake model is currently in use on an experimental “beacon” blockchain, where it has been tested to ensure that the theoretical security it provides is sufficient for the multi-billion dollar economy that lies above the Ethereum network. Now, the experimental blockchain will take over the work of the mainnet.

“Imagine Ethereum being a spaceship that is not quite ready for interstellar travel,” the Ethereum Foundation said, explaining the merger. “With the beacon chain, the community built a new engine and hardened hull. After extensive testing, it’s almost time to hot-swap the new motor with the old one in flight. This will merge the new, more efficient engine into the existing ship, ready to go serious light years and conquer the universe.

There are still potential issues ahead. The foundation said users should watch out for an increase in fraudulent activity, as hackers could take advantage of the confusion surrounding the switch to try to trick users into giving up their passwords, funds, or both. “You should be on high alert for scams trying to take advantage of users during this transition,” the organization said. “Don’t send your ETH anywhere in an attempt to ‘upgrade to ETH2’. There is no ETH2 token, and you don’t have to do anything more to keep your funds safe .

The final stages of the merger are expected to begin on September 6, the foundation said, with the old blockchain being deactivated at some point between September 10 and September 20.

Ethereum won’t be the first network to use proof-of-stake, and others including cardano and solana have demonstrated the technology on a smaller scale. But its rollover will leave bitcoin, the largest cryptocurrency, facing further criticism for its continued reliance on proof-of-work.

The bitcoin network consumes 130 TWh of electricity per year, De Vries estimates, a sum that will be increasingly difficult to defend if the ethereum blockchain demonstrates that the same capacities can be achieved in an environmentally friendly way.

Cryptocurrency ethereum plans to cut carbon emissions by 99% with upgrade

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