ethereum becomes a truly low-carbon blockchain


On September 15, 2022, Ethereum successfully executed The Merge, a historic upgrade transitioning from the original proof-of-work to proof-of-stake mechanism, and reducing energy consumption by ~99.95%. Marking the platform’s biggest update yet, The Merge refers to the original Ethereum Mainnet (the main public Ethereum blockchain that has existed since its genesis) merging with a separate proof-of-stake blockchain called the Beacon Chain, now existing as one chain. Swapping proof-of-work for proof-of-stake, where the real-world value invested comes from ETH staked directly in a smart contract, removes the need for miners to burn energy to add to the blockchain. Therefore, the environmental cost of securing the network is drastically reduced, making Ethereum a truly low-carbon, green blockchain. 


In order to understand how significant the drop in consumption really is, just imagine that Ethereum’s total energy consumption in February 2022 was just under 94 TWh/yr. In the summer before the switch to proof-of-stake, the energy consumption was closer to 60 TWh/yr, comparable to that of Uzbekistan, with a carbon emission equivalent to that of Azerbaijan (33 MT/yr). Now that The Merge is complete, the energy expended by the Ethereum network is relatively small – on the order of 0.01 TWh/yr.

ethereum merge: historic upgrade reduces cryptocurrency's energy consumption by 99.95%
all images courtesy of Ethereum





Ethereum is known as the community-run technology powering the cryptocurrency ether (ETH) and thousands of decentralized applications. The platform describes itself as more of ‘a marketplace of financial services, games, social networks and other apps that respect your privacy and cannot censor you.’ Since its inception, Ethereum aimed to implement a proof-of-stake consensus mechanism, but doing so without sacrificing security and decentralization took years of focused research and development. Therefore, from 2014 until now, a proof-of-work mechanism was used, which required miners to use their computing hardware, consuming large amounts of energy in the process.


The transition from the proof-of-work mechanism to proof-of-stake, which took place on September 15, 2022, is called The Merge. By joining the original execution layer of Ethereum with its new proof-of-stake consensus layer, the Beacon Chain, the platform managed to eliminate the need for energy-intensive mining and instead enabled the the network to be secured using staked ETH. This mechanism can be run on low-powered devices and does not require heavy computation to participate, reducing the energy expended by the network by 99.95%. This transition marks the next step in ealizing the Ethereum vision—’more scalability, security, and sustainability.’ According to the platform, this sustainability boost also brings security benefits. Staked ether makes it much more expensive to attack the chain than under proof-of-work, but less expensive to secure it as less new ETH has to be issued to pay validators than miners.




Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin announces the successful completion of The Merge



ethereum merge: historic upgrade reduces cryptocurrency's energy consumption by 99.95%