Zero-carbon subnets

This topic has been surfaced from the node-shuffling thread, for community discussion as a concept proposal to be added to the IC roadmap. @diegop @manu

Some subnets could be designated as zero-carbon subnets, only using nodes running on renewable energy. Instead of using batteries to deal with supply intermittancy, node-handover is used instead. When renewable power is available at a specific node’s location, it joins the subnet; when not available, it goes dormant. This would decrease operating cost, but increase capital cost because the subnet would need more replication.

Electricity can’t be efficiently moved around the globe, but with the Internet Computer, compute can. In other words, we’d be using Chain Key to enable a subnet to “follow the sun”. A blockchain network that’s more sustainable than the traditional cloud? Now that would turn heads.

Note: I suppose this would require tweaks to the remuneration structure for node providers, so as not to overly penalise correctly-handled downtime.


Interesting idea, @MalcolmMurray !
I was watching this YT vid , and wondered if the data and insights offered here, suggest further opportunties (unique-to / enabled by the IC topologies, arch, processes) for comparative advantage in footprint/sustainabilty (extending the findings beyond specifc AI workload/use-case focus): Allen School Distinguished Lecture: Carole-Jean Wu (Facebook AI Research) - YouTube
(references this paper: [2011.02839] Chasing Carbon: The Elusive Environmental Footprint of Computing)

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This is an extract from a longer document entitled, “A Climate Conscious approach to publishing Music NFTs” in which I analysed the CO2 emissions produced by two blockchains for an established music artist, whose primary concern with publishing content as NFTs is their impact on the environment.

The CO₂ Cost of Publishing PVC LPs and CDs

The 2019 article “The environmental impact of music: digital, records, CDs analysed” reported modern PVC LPs have a carbon footprint of approximately 0.5kg of CO₂ (500 grams), but that this does not include packaging and transport. The 2010 scientific paper entitled, “The Energy and Climate Change Implications of Different Music Delivery Methods” found albums published on CD and delivered by light-duty truck through an online e-tail provider produce approximately 2 Kg of CO₂ (2000 grams) each.

Blockchain CO₂ Transaction Emissions are only one part of the story

In the spirit of producing as complete a discussion as possible, it is appropriate to consider the cost of playing LPs and CDs against streaming over the internet, but at this point the argument becomes exceptionally difficult to define as different record players and computers themselves have different carbon footprints and the electricity used by different people in different places comes from different sources. This issue is discussed in the Guardian article, “Nightmares on wax: the environmental impact of the vinyl revival

However, the CO₂ cost of streaming is coming into our cultural consciousness, as demonstrated by The Economist November 2021 article, “How environmentally damaging is music streaming?” Which reports one hour of audio streaming produces 55 grams of CO₂, from which one can extrapolate a 5 minute single produces 4.58 grams of CO₂.

Therefore, it seems reasonable to ask what streaming services are doing to mitigate the carbon cost of streaming? Spotify appears to have a comprehensive approach, which includes Carbon Offsetting.

It must be noted that Greenpeace, the environment movement, contests the efficacy of Carbon Offsetting, “We’re living in a golden age of greenwash: From ‘carbon neutral’ flights to ‘net zero’ bacon, dishonest green PR is on the rise

IF the CO₂ cost of streaming music accessed via NFTs is commensurate with the CO₂ cost of popular streaming services the benefits of producing NFTs is not only eroded but they could end up producing more emissions than traditional solutions.

One More Thing

Many blockchains use the Interplanetary File System, a blockchain solution for data storage, to store the digital content associated with NFTs. IPFS demonstrates a Green approach to energy usage through the publication of the network’s energy consumption. Furthermore, a partnership with Energy Web Zero facilitates the direct purchase of electricity by storage providers (miners) from Renewable Energy Providers. This allows users to direct their data towards those miners with Renewable Energy Certificates. In addition, IPFS has joined the Crypto Climate Accord which has the stated aim to “Make Crypto Green.”

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