The Ethereum blockchain will soon become much greener

Ethereum is about to experience a major change in its operation, which will greatly reduce its energy consumption. The long-awaited event is scheduled for September.

The date is finally known: Ethereum, the most important blockchain in the world behind bitcoin, will completely disrupt its operation on September 19. The date was announced by Tim Beiko, one of the main Ethereum developers, during a public meeting that took place on July 14, the conclusions of which were shared on Twitter.

We now know that the last phases of testing will take place throughout the summer, before concluding on September 19 with the event known as ” Fusion », fusion in French. This is a moment that the Ethereum community has been waiting for for a long time, because it should allow the blockchain to become much less polluting, and it is most certainly a day that will mark a milestone in the history of crypto-currencies.

The Merge, an event that will revolutionize cryptos

Concretely, The Merge designates the moment when Ethereum will stop operating with a so-called “proof of work” protocol, and will switch to a “proof of stake” protocol. Basically, protocols refer to how transactions are validated on blockchains. Changing protocol, while the blockchain is working, is therefore a technical and very delicate operation, which will have many consequences on the latter.

The proof of work protocol, which is the one with which Ethereum has worked since its inception, is one of the most widespread protocols in the world of cryptos (bitcoin also uses it). But it has one main flaw: it is extremely energy-intensive. To validate transactions with a proof of work system, the blockchain puts miners in competition, who must find the answer to an extremely complex equation as quickly as possible — so much so that it sometimes takes hundreds of computers, which all consume a lot of energy, to achieve it. Once a miner has found the answer, he earns the right to validate the transactions, and is rewarded with a certain amount of crypto-currencies (6.25 bitcoins, at the moment for example).

In a proof of stake system, it is the validators who are in charge of verifying transactions. Instead of having to answer math problems, they will have to stake some of their cryptocurrency holdings in order to earn the right to create the next block. The validator will then be chosen at random from all the people who have chosen to participate, and the cryptocurrencies put into play will be used to ensure their good behavior. So there are no calculations to solve, no huge computer farms to feed, etc.

A less polluting blockchain

If The Merge is so expected, it is therefore largely for ecological reasons. “ Ethereum energy consumption will be reduced by 99.95% after The Merge “, thus estimates the Ethereum on its site. ” Since almost all of the energy consumed by proof of work systems comes from the computer networks used by miners, moving to proof of stake dramatically reduces energy requirements. “. In all, the Ethereum developers calculated that the proof of stake protocol was 2,000 times more energy efficient than proof of work.

Ethereum teams have calculated that currently the total energy consumption of the blockchain is 112 TWh/year, a figure comparable to that of the Netherlands over a year. They also estimated that it emitted 53 megatonnes per year of carbon, a level similar to that of Singapore. ” Moving from proof of work to proof of stake will reduce energy consumption to 0.01 TWh/year “, they indicate. Although these figures are to be taken with hindsight – these are, after all, the calculations of the Ethereum teams, who are biased – such a drop would make the blockchain a much greener ecosystem.

Ethereum energy consumption must fall after The Merge // Source: Ethereum

That’s not all: the change towards proof of stake should also put an end to purchases of graphics cards or high-powered computers, since Ethereum validators will no longer need them. These may “ use conventional computers, and even devices with low power “, specifies the Ethereum.

Last advantage: The Merge will allow to have a faster blockchain. The Ethereum network is experiencing congestion problems: the blockchain cannot validate more than between 15 and 45 transactions per second, which means that certain operations can take time, or be extremely expensive (gas fees s apply on every exchange, the price of which depends on the congestion of the blockchain.Once The Merge takes place, it will be much easier for the network to remedy this problem.