Solana Foundation pioneers blockchain emissions measurement in real time

Solana launches its carbon emissions tracker with the carbon data platform Trycarbonara

a person with a ruler surrounded by smog
Solana becomes the first blockchain to track the carbon footprint of its nodes and individual validators

Yesterday, The Solana Foundation, one of the leading blockchain providers, launched a real-time emissions measurement tool for free, real-time verification of the network's carbon footprint.

"The emissions tracker was developed in collaboration with Trycarbonara, a carbon data platform, and embeds software directly on Solana nodes to provide the most comprehensive and accurate measurement of the blockchain's footprint to date. This measurement dynamically changes based on the throughput of individual validators, when they are online and offline and changes in the validator network over time," the Solana team said in the official announcement.

So far, the emission tracker is capable of collecting and measuring five types of data. It uses hardware instrumentation to measure emissions from RPC nodes and checks emission granularity, which shows the carbon footprint of specific network validators. It also tracks the geolocation network's validators.

The tracker is also equipped with features to measure marginal emissions, also known as consequential emissions. According to Solana, these are based on "the incremental emissions impact of new demand as it relates to the overall distribution of grid supply." In other words, the tracker can assess the incremental greenhouse gas emissions that result from a new source of electricity demand on the power grid.

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"This framework can be useful when gauging the environmental impact of changes and optimizations to energy consumption, and accounts for the renewable energy mix of different sources of electricity," the Solana team explains.

Another parameter monitored by the tracker is embodied emissions. These relate to a whole range of activities required to manufacture, transport, maintain and dispose of the hardware used in Solana's infrastructure.

In addition, the new tracker can also determine the PUE (Power Usage Effectiveness) value, which describes the efficiency of a data center.

"The data set is detail-rich, open, and free to use, making it possible to scrutinize the sources of network emissions down to the validator level. This allows validators and ecosystem projects and teams to look at individual contributions to the network's carbon footprint and explore mitigation strategies," Solana's team emphasized that the data generated by its emissions tracker is accessible to anyone interested in the network's carbon footprint.

Solana also provided curious insights into the carbon emissions of different activities compared to a Solana transaction with and without voting which consumes 0.878 kJ.

However, according to Solana's data, this energy consumption is less than that of a single Google search, which consumes nearly 1,100 kJ. At the same time, the energy consumption of such a Solana transaction is almost 165 times lower than the energy consumption of a single post-merge Ethereum transaction, which consumes 144.0 kJ. At the same time, a single Bitcoin transaction consumes 5.0 billion kJ.

The data reported by Solana also make it possible to compare the energy consumption of transactions in the above networks with other activities that require electricity. Fully charging the battery of an iPhone 13, for example, consumes 44.7 kJ, while an hour of work on a computer consumes 568.8 kJ.

Meanwhile, the energy released by a gallon of gasoline is 121.3 million, which is still much less than the energy consumed by a single Bitcoin transaction.

Twitter users found the release of the emissions tracker very useful, seeing it as a way to prove to crypto opponents that blockchain technology is doing its best to be sustainable. Others were disappointed that none of the other blockchains are interested in tracking their carbon footprint the way Solana does. However, some Twitter users claim climate change is not real at all and it is all "a big lie for money."

The Solana Foundation started to track the energy consumption of the Solana network energy use in 2021. According to the latest report in September 2022, the network's annual carbon footprint was 3,412 tonnes. The foundation plans to add more carbon footprint tracking features.

One of their projects is the tokenization of carbon and bringing it on the chain. Another project the foundation would like to support is wallet-level emissions analysis. It is somewhat similar to emissions analysis for nodes and network validators, but this tracking solution will monitor and measure the carbon footprint of wallet users.

The Solana Foundation points out that "information and computer technology (ICT) is responsible for up to 3.9% of global carbon emissions - more than that of the airline industry. Accurate measurement with real-time carbon data is the first step towards cutting emissions." The team hopes that "the Solana Foundation's efforts will inspire other blockchain networks and projects to take similar steps towards measuring their emissions and building a more regenerative on-chain community," and invites anyone interested in its projects to contact the team.