An analysis of energy consumption and carbon footprints of cryptocurrencies and possible solutions

Varun Kohli, Sombuddha Chakravarty, Vinay Chamola, Kuldip Singh Sangwan, Sherali Zeadally

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations

Abstract

There is an urgent need to control global warming caused by humans to achieve a sustainable future. CO2 levels are rising steadily, and while countries worldwide are actively moving toward the sustainability goals proposed during the Paris Agreement in 2015, we are still a long way to go from achieving a sustainable mode of global operation. The increased popularity of cryptocurrencies since the introduction of Bitcoin in 2009 has been accompanied by an increasing trend in greenhouse gas emissions and high electrical energy consumption. Popular energy tracking studies (e.g., Digiconomist and the Cambridge Bitcoin Energy Consumption Index (CBECI)) have estimated energy consumption ranges from 29.96 ​TWh to 135.12 ​TWh and 26.41 ​TWh to 176.98 ​TWh, respectively for Bitcoin as of July 2021, which are equivalent to the energy consumption of countries such as Sweden and Thailand. The latest estimate by Digiconomist on carbon footprints shows a 64.18 MtCO2 emission by Bitcoin as of July 2021, close to the emissions by Greece and Oman. This review compiles estimates made by various studies from 2018 to 2021. We compare the energy consumption and carbon footprints of these cryptocurrencies with countries around the world and centralized transaction methods such as Visa. We identify the problems associated with cryptocurrencies and propose solutions that can help reduce their energy consumption and carbon footprints. Finally, we present case studies on cryptocurrency networks, namely, Ethereum 2.0 and Pi Network, with a discussion on how they can solve some of the challenges we have identified.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)79-89
Number of pages11
JournalDigital Communications and Networks
Volume9
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Chongqing University of Posts and Telecommunications

Keywords

  • Blockchain
  • Carbon footprint
  • Climate change
  • Cryptocurrency
  • Sustainability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Computer Networks and Communications

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