Microsoft Ventures into Nuclear Energy to Power AI Development

To further its efforts in the field of artificial intelligence (AI), software giant Microsoft is venturing into the potentially dangerous world of nuclear power. The IT giant has signalled a strategic effort to establish an energy strategy based on Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) and microreactors by posting a job opening for a Principal Programme Manager in Nuclear Technology. This decision was made public by the posting of the job offering. This initiative’s goal is to provide support for the company’s cloud and artificial intelligence systems, which are growing more energy-intensive.

The duties of the position as well as the required credentials are outlined in the posting for the job, which is no longer accepting applications. It is anticipated that the ideal applicant will have at least six years of experience working in the engineering field, the energy market, or the nuclear business. According to the job description, the primary responsibilities of this post will include “maturing and implementing a global Small Modular Reactor (SMR) and microreactor energy strategy.” Additionally, the function requires investigating a variety of alternative experimental energy methods.

Data centres and artificial intelligence models have a well-deserved reputation for their excessive energy usage. According to the findings of a research that was published in 2019 in the MIT Technology Review, the training of a single AI model might produce as much carbon dioxide as five automobiles over the course of their lifespan. Microsoft plans to address this problem by improving both its software and hardware algorithmic and hardware efficiency, as well as by maximising the use of renewable energy sources such as nuclear power. According to the United States Office of Nuclear Energy, nuclear power is the only kind of energy that does not emit any carbon emissions; hence, it is an attractive choice for Microsoft’s environmental projects.

The change, on the other hand, is not without its difficulties and its detractors. Nuclear energy, according to the findings of researchers at Stanford University, is not a silver bullet for resolving environmental problems because of its protracted planning-to-operation time, enormous carbon footprint, and meltdown hazards. In addition, there are issues over the management of radioactive waste and the establishment of a uranium supply chain, particularly in light of the fact that Russia has been the primary supplier of highly enriched uranium fuel (HALEU) to the rest of the world.

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Solana Launches Real-Time Carbon Emissions Tracking Dashboard

The Solana Foundation has launched a real-time tracking dashboard to measure carbon emissions on its blockchain. The foundation collaborated with data platform Trycarbonara to create the dashboard, which is the first “major smart-contract blockchain” to measure carbon emissions in real-time. This marks an important step towards promoting transparency and accountability in the blockchain industry.

The new dashboard can be found on the Solana Climate website and displays the total node count, megawatt-hours, total carbon emissions average, and marginal use, alongside numerous other indicators. Furthermore, it contains several emissions comparison charts where users can view side-by-side conversions depicting Solana usage versus numerous other emission-producing activities.

According to a blog post from the foundation, the organization hopes that this initiative will set a new standard for measuring emissions in blockchain by publishing this data. The data used to power the Solana Foundation’s real-time carbon emissions dashboard is available open-source and is modeled on the estimated carbon footprint of the Dell PowerEdge R940.

It remains to be seen whether other blockchain outfits will adopt similar tracking systems, but this move from the Solana Foundation comes amid increasing global efforts to utilize blockchain technology to monitor carbon emissions around the world.

As part of its “Shaping Europe’s digital future” initiative, the European Commission has praised blockchain’s ability to serve as a foundation for the accurate measurement of carbon emissions in any sector. In an article on the EU’s digital strategy blog, the commission wrote, “Blockchain can be utilised through smart contracts to better calculate, track and report on the reduction of the carbon footprint across the entire value chain.”

This move towards using blockchain to track carbon emissions is particularly relevant given the global climate crisis and increasing demand for more sustainable and eco-friendly practices.

In the United States, President Joe Biden recently floated budget plans that would add an excise on electricity used for cryptocurrency mining in the amount of 30%. This shows that the government is also taking steps towards addressing the energy consumption concerns of the cryptocurrency industry.

Overall, the Solana Foundation’s real-time carbon emissions tracking dashboard is a positive step towards promoting transparency and accountability in the blockchain industry. As more blockchain outfits follow suit, the industry will become more eco-friendly, which is crucial for achieving a sustainable future.


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IPCC Concerns Energy-Intensive Crypto Mining as Risk of Climate Change

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), an arm of the United Nations responsible for assessing the science related to climate change, released a new report Monday highlighting warnings about future climate risks. 

The IPCC’s latest report is the third version in a series of reports that examine the state of climate change mitigation efforts. In the latest report, IPCC identified cryptocurrency among technologies that may require greater energy demands, recommending a 50% global emissions elimination by 2030 to reduce the environmental effects of climate change.

The report said that the energy requirements of cryptocurrencies are a growing concern and stated that considerable uncertainty exists surrounding the energy use of their underlying blockchain infrastructure. “While it is clear that the energy requirements of global Bitcoin mining have grown significantly since 2017, recent literature indicates a wide range of estimates for 2020 (47 TWh to 125 TWh) due to data gaps and differences in modelling approaches,” the report mentioned.  

The IPCC also included the energy requirements for artificial intelligence  (A.I.) alongside cryptocurrency and blockchain. However, the body mentioned that all technologies have the potential to enable emissions reductions and increase emissions depending on how they are governed. “Large improvements in information storage, processing and communication technologies, including artificial intelligence, will affect emissions. They can enhance energy-efficient control, reduce transaction cost for energy production and distribution, improve demand-side management […] and reduce the need for physical transport,” The IPCC stated.

Cryptocurrencies in the Crosshairs

The IPCC is not the only authorized body to have singled out cryptocurrency as a concern for carbon emissions.

Early this year, U.S. lawmakers began probing Bitcoin mining firms to disclose how much electricity they use for crypto mining, as the impact of cryptocurrency mining on energy is being felt across the world.

In January, eight U.S. senators, led by Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), sent letters to six Bitcoin mining firms in the U.S., asking them to disclose how much electricity they use, where it comes from, and how they plan to grow.

The letters were sent amid an oversight hearing on crypto mining’s effect on energy by the House Energy & Commerce Committee.

In November last year, Erik Thedéen, the Vice-chairman of the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA), called for a bloc-wide ban on “proof of work” (PoW) crypto mining in Europe, stating that the industry’s energy usage was becoming a “national issue” in his native Sweden. “Bitcoin is now a national issue for Sweden because of the amount of renewable energy devoted to mining,” Thedéen said.

The E.U. regulator pointed out that crypto mining threatened targets to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius under the 2015 Paris Agreement.

Last year, data from the Bitcoin Energy Consumption Index from Digiconomist and the Cambridge Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index showed that the two largest cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin and Ethereum, consume around twice as much electricity in one year as the whole of Sweden.



Image source: IPCC


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Bitcoin mining estimated to represent 0.9% of global carbon emissions in 2030

A new study from the New York Digital Investment Group (NYDIG) has projected that Bitcoin’s energy consumption will remain below 0.5% of the global total over the next decade.

NYDIG published its ‘Bitcoin Net Zero’ research paper this month, finding that Bitcoin’s energy consumption and carbon emissions will not skyrocket in the coming years, even if prices do.

The study, which was penned by Castle Island Ventures partner Nic Carter and NYDIG founder Ross Stevens, discusses how the network’s carbon emission may change in the future depending on fluctuations in Bitcoin’s price, mining difficulty, and energy consumption.

The study’s most aggressive outlook found that Bitcoin’s emission would still represent a tiny fractions of the global total even if the price of BTC went through the roof by the year 2030, concluding:

“Even in our most aggressive, high price, scenario, in which Bitcoin reaches $10 trillion by 2030, its emissions amount to only 0.9 percent of the world’s total, and its energy outlay is just 0.4 percent of the global total.”

The report projects the future growth of Bitcoin mining based on data from 2020. The researchers calculated the historical electricity consumption of Bitcoin miners as a function of the network hashrate and machine efficiency.

For the year 2020, the authors found that Bitcoin consumed 62 terawatt-hours (TWh) of electricity and produced 33 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions to represent just 0.04% of global energy consumption and 0.1% of global carbon emissions.

The authors asserted the carbon waste associated with Bitcoin mining was “insignificant in global terms” during 2020.

Related: Bitcoin’s power consumption this year has already surpassed all of 2020’s

Currently, BTC mining uses 101 TWh per year, or 0.45% of global electricity. According to Cambridge University, the Bitcoin network consumes more energy than the entire country of the Philippines.

However, the university also found that Bitcoin consumes less electricity total than all the refrigerators in the U.S. combined, and only 4.6% of the total energy used for residential air-conditioning worldwide.

The report also concluded that the prospects for


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VeChain Thor mainnet reaches 10 million blocks milestone with no downtime

Supply chain platform VeChain has reached a milestone in terms of uptime and processed blocks on the VeChain Thor mainnet.

The VeChain Foundation posted the achievement on its Twitter feed on Sept. 1, adding that it was “a major milestone that is testament to our public blockchain’s scalability, security, and rock-solid stability.”

The VeChain Thor network has now surpassed 10 million blocks and was currently processing block number 10,004,141 at the time of writing. Comparatively, Bitcoin has recorded a 99.98% uptime since January 2009 according to this tracker.

The Foundation noted it has seen con enterprise usage from commerce giant Walmart and governmental adoption from both San Marino and China, where the project has close ties. VeChain partnered with a Walmart subsidiary in China to track food products in June 2020.

According to the Foundation there are some major infrastructural updates in the pipeline such as Proof of Authority 2.0 alongside “more partnerships and use cases, community dApps, growth and more.”

VeChain uses a Proof-of-Authority consensus mechanism which enables the network to process high-speed transactions based on identity and reputation as a stake, using just 101 authority nodes.

The enterprise supply chain management platform plans to upgrade to a next-generation consensus mechanism called PoA 2.0-SURFACE, which it describes as a “secure, use-case adaptive, and relatively fork-free approach of chain extension.”

The upgrade will enable higher on-chain throughput and reduced forking probability with the “highest level of data security unfound in any other blockchain platforms,” according to VeChain.

VeChain launched its public testnet with the first two components of the consensus upgrade in late July, however, did not specify a launch date for the final mainnet.

More recently, VeChain announced a partnership with global commercial real estate services firm Jones Lang LaSalle Incorporated. The firm is working with VeChain to explore sustainable blockchain adoption with a view to expanding its operations in China.

Related: Enterprise-level partnerships send VeChain (VET) price to new highs

On Aug. 26, Cointelegraph reported that VeChain had unveiled a new initiative that will assist businesses in tracking and reporting their carbon footprint data. It touted the new Digital Carbon Footprint SaaS Service as a “rapidly deployable tool, enabling enterprises of all sizes to re-engineer their carbon footprint data management practices.”

VeChain’s native token, VET, has been making solid gains on the back of recent project developments. VET has gained 14% over the past 24 hours to trade at $0.138 according to CoinGecko and is now up 60% over the past month — but still 51% down from its Apr. 19 all-time high of $0.28.


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Greenidge Commits to Being 100% Carbon Neutral for Its Bitcoin Mining Facility Starting June 2021

Greenidge Generation Holdings Inc. has announced that it will offset all greenhouse gas emissions from its Bitcoin mining facility through a portfolio of fully accredited offset credits, beginning June 1st.

The company has said that it will conduct an entirely carbon neutral Bitcoin mining operation at its powerplant-cryptocurrency mining hybrid facility in Upstate New York. The company’s announcement comes at a time when Tesla automaker and Square payment company announced that they will not make future Bitcoin purchases, citing environmental concerns associated with crypto mining. 

Greenidge has said it will buy voluntary carbon offsets from a selection of U.S greenhouse gas reduction projects. The company mentioned that each project has been reviewed and credited by one of three well-known Offset Project Registries, Verra, the Climate Action Reserve (CAR), and the American Carbon Registry (ACR), ensuring that any project funded by Greenidge minimizes emission or increases sequestration of greenhouse gas in a manner that is verifiable, real, and permanent.

Apart from offsetting 100% of its carbon emissions from its Bitcoin mining, Greenidge also plans to invest in a portion of its mining profits in renewable energy projects. The firm is actively considering direct financing of alternative green energy sources in New York and other locations across the country.

Greenidge also stated that it will continue participating in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a market-based program in which participating states sell CO2 allowance through auctions and invest profits in renewable energy, energy efficiency, and other consumer benefits programs to generate local green jobs and encourage innovation in the clean energy economy. According to the report, the company buys RGGI allowances every year to cover 100% of its CO2 emitted from power generation and it has been doing so since it started gas-fired operations in 2017.

Bitcoin Mining Worries Many

As institutional and retail investors continue adopting Bitcoin, one concern that has emerged is its connection to energy and environmental issues. Experts argue that the crypto strains the environment because of all the energy it takes to mine a single Bitcoin. The amount of electricity used daily to mine Bitcoin has been identified to be more than electricity used by entire countries such as Ireland.

Some Tesla investors and environmentalists have been increasingly critical about the manner in which Bitcoin is mined using huge amounts of electricity generated from fossil fuels.

On Wednesday, May 12, Bitcoin’s price dropped by 10% after Elon Musk announced that Tesla has suspended the use of cryptocurrency as a payment method, less than two months after the electric vehicle manufacturer started accepting Bitcoin for payment. Musk cited the energy concern, especially the use of “coal, which has the worst emissions of any fuel.”

Earlier this month, a bill was introduced in the New York State Senate to stop Bitcoin mining until the state assesses its impacts on the environment.

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