Ethereum’s long-awaited merge, which was successfully completed overnight, was designed to drastically cut down on the blockchain network’s overall energy consumption and it apparently has done just that. According to an initial report out this morning, Ethereum’s energy needs and carbon footprint have both fallen even more than anticipated.
The report, commissioned from the Crypto Carbon Ratings Institute (CCRI) by Ethereum-centric software firm ConsenSys, claims that Ethereum now uses approximately 99.99% less energy than before the merge was completed. It also suggests the blockchain’s carbon footprint has dropped by just over 99.99% as well.
Previously, the Ethereum Foundation estimated that the merge would cut the network’s energy usage by approximately 99.95%, citing energy consumption estimates from Digiconomist, a site from noted crypto critic Alex de Vries. This week, Digiconomist itself claimed that the actual number would likely be 99.98%.
According to the CCRI report, Ethereum’s overall electricity draw now tallies just 2,600 megawatt hours per year, compared to 23 million megawatt hours before the merge. As a result, Ethereum’s estimated annual CO2 emissions have dropped from over 11 million tons to just under 870 less than the combined total of 100 average American homes, per the EPA.
In a statement today, CCRI co-founder and CEO Uli Gallersdörfer said that Ethereum’s “green credentials” are now on par with other energy-efficient blockchain networks that began with a proof-of-stake consensus model, rather than transitioning to one as Ethereum just did.
Meanwhile, the ConsenSys press release described the merge as the “biggest decarbonization in the history of tech.” But there’s a major caveat here that’s worth noting.
While Ethereum has apparently shed the vast majority of its environmental impact, many former Ethereum miners that is, people who ran powerful computers to secure the network and earn ETH rewards have simply moved on to mine cryptocurrency on other networks.
Major Ethereum mining pools which group together resources from numerous users have said that they will instead mine on the EthereumPoW (ETHW) network, which was forked from Ethereum’s mainnet ahead of the merge. Whether ETHW retains long-term interest remains to be seen, but in the short term, some former Ethereum miners hope to profit in that space.
Meanwhile, existing blockchain networks like Ethereum Classic (ETC), Ravencoin (RVN), and Ergo (ERG) have seen surging hash rates following the merge, which again likely means that miners have moved their powerful rigs from one network to another.
In other words, massive amounts of energy are still being spent on mining crypto whether it’s for Bitcoin, an Ethereum offshoot, or another coin that relies on a proof-of-work model. It’s just not tied to Ethereum itself anymore, which should help the network shed the environmental concerns that will continue to be linked to Bitcoin and other such cryptocurrencies.