The Ethereum Energy Consumption Index provides the latest estimate of the total energy consumption of the Ethereum network.
NEW RESEARCH: “Cryptocurrencies on the road to sustainability: Ethereum paving the way for Bitcoin” (December 2022); Ethereum has reduced its electrical energy requirement by at least 99.84% by changing its method of production.
Annualized Total Ethereum Footprints
0.01 TWhComparable to the power consumption of Gibraltar.
0.01 Mt CO2Comparable to the carbon footprint of Faroe Islands.
Single Ethereum Transaction Footprints
0.02 kWhEquivalent to the power consumption of an average U.S. household over 0 days.
0.01 kgCO2Equivalent to the carbon footprint of 22 VISA transactions or 2 hours of watching Youtube.
Did you know?
Ethereum used to run on the same unsustainable proof-of-work (PoW) mechanism as Bitcoin. The Ethereum Energy Consumption Index was designed with the same purpose, methods and assumptions as the Bitcoin Energy Consumption Index. However, on the 15th of September 2022, Ethereum replaced its PoW mechanism with an alternative known as proof-of-stake (PoS). As a result of this change, there’s no longer a network of energy-intensive mining devices competing with each other in order to create the next block for the underlying blockchain anymore. Instead, wealth plays a key role in the block creation process that makes use of PoS. Coins are locked up as collateral in the staking process (i.e. put “at stake”), in which the software then randomly selects a “staker” to create the next block for the blockchain. Regardless of whether a network runs PoW or PoS, creating the next block for the blockchain will provide the creator with a reward, but in PoW the chance of obtaining this reward could only be increased by employing more energy-hungry devices. PoS may only incentivize acquiring a higher stake to increase the odds of creating a new block, but the computational power of the underlying device is not relevant to this process. A participating device may still have to meet some requirements (e.g. storage capacity or bandwidth), but improving specifications will not yield more rewards.
Despite PoS Ethereum presenting a significant improvement over PoW Ethereum with regard to the network’s electricity consumption, it is worth noting that blockchain technology in general is not energy-efficient compared to more centralized alternatives. Blockchains are distributed ledgers in which data and processes are replicated over hundreds or thousands of different nodes in the network, which introduces significant data redundancy. From a blockchain perspective this is required to make decentralization work (the more, the better), but from an environmental perspective this may always lead to undesirable outcomes. This can easily be illustrated by comparing the energy efficiency of PoS Ethereum to a centralized institution such as Mastercard as shown below. This comparison should serve as a reminder that decentralization always has a price; some will argue this feature is worth the cost.