A possible solution to the power-hungry PoW consensus mechanism
Author : Dennis Oosting
My entire academic career I have been focused on the Earth. Especially, the well-being of the planet we live on. My interests have been climate change and sustainable development and I felt that I could and should learn how to make a change (or at least try to). Due to this, it would seem strange that I have been an advocate of blockchain development and especially the Proof of Work protocols. PoW has also been called the Proof of Waste, as the mining mechanism requires a lot of energy. According to a last year’s article by Cointelegraph, it was stated that Bitcoin (and Bitcoin Cash) mining alone was listed as the 61st highest power consumer in the world (roughly at 0.13% of the global energy consumption). This research was published during the cryptocurrency bull run of 2017. However, as it stands now Bitcoin’s electricity consumption has risen to 0.32% (40th power consumer) and there are many reasons to believe this will only continue to rise with an increased difficulty of mining.
The major problem with the energy consumption of PoW protocols, is that most of nowadays energy is delivered by coal fired power plants. Due to this massive power consumption, the carbon footprint of Bitcoin is rising at an alarming rate. For those who do not know: the carbon footprint is the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) released into the atmosphere as a result of certain activities. To get an idea of how much CO2 is actually emitted to the atmosphere we can look at how much TWh is used per year purely for Bitcoin mining. In november, Bitcoin miners were roughly using 72 TWh per year, which corresponds to a little more than 35000 kilo tonnes of CO2 being emitted to the atmosphere — almost as much as the entirety of Switzerland was emitting in 2014.
So, why does mining actually consume this much energy? Mining is needed to create new coins and to secure the network at the same time. Mining means that the community is solving an encrypted “puzzle”, with an ever-increasing difficulty. They can be seen as a sort of lottery system consuming energy due to the utilization of certain equipment capable of cracking these puzzles.
Multiple projects, companies and individuals have been trying to find and create better protocols to reduce the problem of energy consumption. Currently, we can think of multiple consensus protocols. The first is Proof of Work, discussed above. The next, and most popular one, is Proof of Stake(PoS), a protocol not based on computer calculations, but rather on its wealth. Followed by Byzantine Fault Tolerance (BFT), a little bit more technical protocol to explain. Currently, there are even more, such as Proof of Activity, Proof of Burn, Proof of Capacity and Proof of Elapsed Time. One should note that there is no perfect protocol, as all have run into their own and individual problems (energy consumption, cartel forming, malicious miners and more).
But, this is where Bither comes in. A new, eco-friendly and layered decentralized economy. Bither has introduced a so-called “three-layer solution”. It is designed to minimize the computational resources required for safeguarding the network. And by doing so, a portion of the computing power, by the miners’ choice and in a democratic way, can be driven towards scientific projects that are in need of computing power to process big data. Bither still works with the PoW consensus algorithm, though with a different architecture and distinct functions compared to Bitcoin, Ethereum, and many other similar networks. Bither’s innovation is in its calculation of network hash rate and automatic separation of computing power by using trusted masternodes.
An additional feature of the Bither platform is merged mining, a powerful incentive to get more miners to join the Bither’s network. Customizable tokens, which are located on the second layer are able to be mined as well, granting the ability of additional profit. Additionally, miners are able to earn extra money during times where prices may fall and mining costs are higher than the profits. This is possible due to the rental processor network, where miners can lease their computing power to other projects. All in all, Bither Platform benefits from a more efficient, flexible, modular-based and user-friendly set of features that even currently-existing blockchains with a second layer solution do not.
So, to sum up the current problems and what Bither can and will do to solve this:
- Miners need to spend money and compete to earn, which is a painful process in a downturn.
- For PoW to be secure and trusted, it requires a large amount of hashing power that is provided by different miners. To reach such qualities, miners should see it profitable to work and stay.
- At the beginning of a new PoW based project, it is hard to provide the required computing power to keep the network secure.
- Research-based projects require a huge amount of computational power to keep running, on the other hand, everyone is carrying some of these resources without needing them.
The PoW based projects need to address the energy consumption issue, PoW is the proper way of running a decentralized and secure network, but it has to be efficient, to mitigate it, part of the computing power can be used for scientific and research projects. Bither Platform supports sidechains and allows you to lease your extra computing power to projects that you find valuable. Additionally, Bither provides a solution without compromising the security of the network and making sure that mining is always lucrative due its “three-layer solution”.
With special thanks to the Bither advisor Dennis Oosting for this article. He shares his opinions with you about how Bither Platform could solve the power-hungry PoW consensus mechanism.