The Internet Computer Embraces Real-Time Energy Reporting and the Proof of Green Initiative

DFINITY
The Internet Computer Review
5 min readApr 20, 2023

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Taking the next steps on the sustainability journey, the DFINITY foundation and the ICP ecosystem joins the Proof of Green initiative with Carbon Crowd to make the Internet Computer’s carbon footprint transparent.

Written by Aisling Connolly

The Internet Computer ecosystem is committed to building green tech, and is already on the path towards reducing its carbon emissions. Recapping the milestones achieved in 2022, a community-authored NNS Proposal #55487 was adopted to establish a carbon footprint and sustainability policy for the blockchain. A project was then launched in collaboration with Carbon Crowd to decarbonize the underlying digital infrastructure of the Internet Computer. The Internet Computer Footprint: IC Sustainability Report 2022, which evaluates the blockchains current electricity usage and carbon footprint, also laid out a series of proposals for the network’s sustainability journey towards decarbonization.

Continuing on the green path, the Internet Computer now introduces real time energy reporting and embraces the Proof of Green Initiative — an initiative that aims to cut greenwashing. More specifically, the Internet Computer can now track real-time energy consumption from its nodes, and anyone can verify and hold the blockchain accountable through the measuring mechanisms and scope 2 carbon emissions reporting displayed on the new dashboard launched by Carbon Crowd. These are the first of many steps towards a realistic sustainability policy for the Internet Computer and the industry as a whole.

Working Towards a Common Goal
In any industry, be it crypto, tech, finance, or otherwise, there are common ways to solve a problem. A good first step mandates that we all agree that the problem exists. This is often a point of contention; depending on how different people view a situation, the existence of a problem may be apparent or not. The article is about sustainability, which is one of the only globally pressing topics where there is no question about the problem’s existence. The science is there, the signs are becoming visible, and species have been lost. The problem has an undeniable foothold in our industry, and in our world.

Recognising a problem, and working towards any solution, it’s important to have a goal, a north star, something to align our efforts to. In the broader climate conversation, this goal is to limit global warming to below 2°C (ref Paris Agreement). In the tech industry, the goal is often to adhere to standards or regulation. While in the blockchain industry there are some conversations of standards in progress, they are often disparate and don’t yet exist in a meaningful, actionable, or cohesive form.

Using the Tools at Hand
What the industry does have, however, is an advanced set of principles and tools that were built to establish open networks with no central point of trust. This is done by bringing transparency to the system and its operations, by guaranteeing availability and integrity of data, and by removing the barriers of entry — people should be free to use and build on these networks. These tools have been quite successful for building decentralized finance solutions, digital art markets, and structured communities in the form of decentralized autonomous organizations. Given these tools, the principles, and the well established global problem of sustainability, the natural question arises as to how these can be best used to pose a solution.

Metrics Speak Louder Than Words
In a bid to bring transparency to numbers reported, the DFINITY Foundation has worked towards exposing real time energy consumption of the node machines running the Internet Computer. While this is still in an experimental phase and a representative sample of nodes are included, energy consumption can be queried directly via the IC dashboard API.

Carbon Crowd has taken this a step further. Under a methodology assessed by Fingreen AI, they combine the energy consumption reported from the Internet Computer nodes, their location (also accessible via the IC Dashboard API), and their emission factor (formed from the grid mix of energy used in that location) with we can see for the first time the real-time carbon consumption of the Internet Computer.

Visit the live dashboard: https://app.carboncrowd.io/

What Remains
This is a very first step towards visualizing and automating reporting of energy consumption and carbon emissions. While the foundations have been set, there remain many open questions, notably:

  • Data Sourcing — In order to produce the carbon footprint of a network there are a number of data points needed including the grid mix of energy used, to the location of the machines, and the methodology itself. A question remains around the most trustless way to gather this data, whether it should be self reported, estimated by a third party or something else.
  • Validation — In working towards a proof of any claim, it’s imperative that the claim can be validated. Bringing transparency to data via automated reporting is a great first step, but a question remains around how this can be validated by a third party.
  • Common Metrics — In the blockchain industry there are metrics by which projects measure and compare their energy consumption and carbon footprint. However, these are often formed in isolation and can lead to inconsistencies in understanding as different projects use different architectures. It is necessary to establish a meaningful set of metrics that capture some essence of all projects.
  • Use cases — In the traditional tech industry it is common to broaden the scope beyond energy consumption to include end-to-end use cases. With the emergence of web3 a clear definition of different use cases (from DeFi, SocialFi, DAOs, and otherwise) is needed.
  • Incentive mechanisms — Reporting data and getting a handle on the situation is a good way to understand the gravity of the problem at hand but as incentives are necessary to keep the system up and running, similar mechanisms will be needed to switch to greener alternatives.

Proof of Green: Becoming Carbon Aware
Beyond the transparent and trustless principles of the blockchain industry and web3, openness and community are two core components. Solving a problem of an industrial or even global scale requires a community-wide collaboration.

The Proof of Green initiative aims to achieve a set of standards for measuring and reporting energy consumption and carbon emissions produced by a device or network of devices. By making this information available to organizations, users and machines, more environmentally friendly behavior can be recognised, rewarded and regulated, thereby accelerating the journey towards a green digital economy.

Keep an eye on the Proof of Green website for more information and to register interest in joining the initiative: https://www.proofofgreen.dev/

Read more:

Learn more about the Internet Computer: internetcomputer.org
Follow the Internet Computer Story on Twitter: @dfinity

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DFINITY
The Internet Computer Review

The Internet Computer is a revolutionary blockchain that hosts unlimited data and computation on-chain. Build scalable Web3 dapps, DeFi, games, and more.