Jelena Bačević, Petar Kočović, Predrag Ivković, Srećko Stanković

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This paper focuses on the environmental impact of blockchain technology, particularly on electricity consumption for equipment operation and cooling. During its operation, the device energy is converted into heat, which must be efficiently dispersed. Additionally, the paper examines the rate of mining equipment replacement and the subsequent e-waste concerns. The impact of blockchain technology on the environment is a complex and debated topic. Only the following two aspects are discussed in this paper:

1)                   Energy Consumption: (a) Positive Impact: Blockchain technology, especially in the context of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, has been criticized for its high energy consumption due to the consensus mechanism called Proof of Work (PoW). However, some blockchain networks use alternative consensus mechanisms like Proof of Stake (PoS), which is more energy-efficient, and b) Negative Impact: PoW-based blockchains, such as Bitcoin, require significant computational power, leading to high energy consumption. The environmental impact is a concern, especially if the electricity used comes from non-renewable sources.

2)                   Mining and E-Waste: (a) Positive Impact: Blockchain technology can help in tracking the supply chain and provenance of minerals, which could reduce the use of conflict minerals and promote ethical mining practices. (b)Negative Impact: The mining of cryptocurrencies involves specialized hardware that becomes obsolete quickly, contributing to electronic waste (e-waste). This can have negative environmental consequences if not properly managed and recycled.

The central topic of this paper is electric energy consumption and as a consequence CO2 emission footprint. Because of the fast growth of data centers and mining centers, consumption of electric energy has grown exponentially in the past decade. Together with the consumption of electric energy, CO2 emission grows dramatically.


Blockchain, crypto-assets, e-waste, waste energy

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