If you are active in cryptocurrency trading, you will eventually run into this conundrum: crypto mining is an energy hog.
According to Bitcoin Mining Company CleanSpark of Henderson, Nevada, the production of a single bitcoin requires 1,074 kilowatt hours of energy, the equivalent energy needed to keep a four-person household humming for 37 days. The creators of the Ethereum blockchain estimate that mining Ether (Ether or ETH) coins via its “proof of work” protocol annually consumes as much energy as the total energy consumption of Finland. It also produces a carbon impact on the environment similar to that of Switzerland.
Why so much energy? As the name suggests, proof-of-work requires work – especially a lot of computing power – as miners compete fiercely to be the first to find a very rare cryptographic hash used to earn a block and add it to the blockchain. Being the first to discover that hashing requires enormous computer processing power, sometimes in the form of hundreds or even thousands of crypto mining rigs operating 24/7. The first miner to find and validate the block is rewarded with cryptocurrency. The complexity of finding this hash makes it almost impossible to go back and alter the history of the blockchain, making the chain impervious to corruption, and therefore very secure. Proof of work is the consensus mechanism used for both Bitcoin and Ethereum.
But over the past two years, a more efficient, less expensive, and more environmentally friendly consensus mechanism has emerged that is used to create blockchains and, in the process, generate cryptocurrencies: Staking.
In 2020, the Ethereum blockchain, which creates ETH, began working on improvements and updates, known at the time as Ethereum 2.0 (or Eth2), a second separate currency system alongside the original Ethereum blockchain. Now known by the Ethereum Foundation as Ethereum Merge,”fusionis shifting from the traditional proof-of-work mining approach to what’s known as ‘proof-of-stake’, in which validators put up an amount of capital to attest to the validity of a block. is what the folks at Ethereum call a “new engine” for Ether, and “a public good for the Ethereum ecosystem.”
How proof-of-stake works
In proof-of-stake, each new block in the Ethereum blockchain is created when validators and user groups in staking pools stake their altcoins (in this example, Ether) to validate a block on the blockchain. The validators are drawn at random in order to propose the validity of a block. This block must be attested by the majority of other validators. Thus, validators put their ETH assets as collateral to validate a proposed block (these assets are put on hold during this process). If the block is deemed legitimate, stakers receive their assets plus an additional “reward” of coins for successfully validating the block and stake new coins. If, however, the block is found to be illegitimate, or if the validators are acting maliciously, the staked amount will be “reduced”.
In staking, validators and those in staking pools share the rewards earned each time a new coin is created. The great appeal of staking is that the amount won can be huge, but in reality it can vary from 2% to 20%. depending on the number of validators participant. For those in a staking pool, it’s usually less than 10%, compounded annually. Still, there is a reward for those who stake their coins to ensure the chains on a block are legit.
Finally, the “Beacon string– the backbone of Ethereum 2.0 – should merge with the original Ethereum blockchain, after which the proof of work will disappear and all Ether will be minted via staking. current expectation (subject to change) is that the merger will take place this year in the third or fourth quarter.
Energy savings can be significant. According to Ethereum backers, if the energy per transaction to mine a single Bitcoin was equivalent in size to that of Dubai’s Burj Khalifa (the tallest skyscraper in the world at 829 meters), then the mining of A single Ether coin would be equal in size to the Leaning Tower of Pisa. , barely 56 meters high. The stake would be only two and a half centimeters, the height of an ordinary screw.
Ways to Stake Ethereum
A good place to start learning about staking is in the staking explanatory section from the Ethereum website.
To qualify as an Ether validator from the comfort of your home, you will need your computer, an internet connection, and had to stake 32 Ether coins, or nearly $91,600. at an exchange rate $2,862 a piece, as of April 29. If you are using your own platform, there are plenty of technical details on how validation works that you will need to explore further.
You can also have someone else perform the computing operations on your behalf while you simply lend 32 Ether, known as “staking as a service” or SaaS.
There are many service providers to turn to for SaaS. One of the most important is Fictional networksa Toronto-based startup claiming to be the world’s largest blockchain infrastructure provider.
Figment Offers lots of details and information about the staking process on its website. The current estimated annual return for staking is between 2% and 20% of the value of your Ether, which you must lend in fixed denominations of 32 Ether. Many variables can impact performance, such as how many other parties join in the staking effort and how quickly the Ethereum blockchain mints new ether coins.
For those without $91,600 worth of Ether, a third option is a pooling service where multiple parties have their Ether combined by a service provider and staked together.
One of these services is Pool, which provides pools of Ether and other currencies including Solana, Terra, and Kusama. The group claims to have facilitated 75% of recent Ether staking. Pool advertises that it has amassed $10.4 billion worth of Ether through staking trades and offers a current annual percentage rate of return on Ether of 3.8%. Some of the other coins have higher APRs.
Reconciliation of proof of staking
A major downside, like with lending, is that staking locks in one’s Ether holdings for a period of time. When you stake now, your ETH coins will be locked until the Eth2 rollout is complete. Staking is an emerging service, so details are still hazy as to how long this period will last; perhaps as long as it takes the proof-of-stake system to work properly, which is currently believed to be up to a year and a half. It’s a long time to have your money tied up.
To deal with this blockage, the crypto trading company Darma Capital is developing LiquidStake, which will lend the dollar-backed USD coin (USDC) to anyone who agrees to stake their Ether. The fees for LiquidStake are high, however – 10% to 11% of all rewards generated from staking, plus 13.5% interest in the form of additional USDC.
Similarly, the Lido operation processes the lock through its own token system, called Stacked ETH, or stETH, which replaces your staked Ether while in use. StETH can be used “in the same way” as regular Ether, according to Lido; “sell it, spend it, and – since it is compatible for use in decentralized finance (DeFi) – use it as collateral for on-chain loans.” When transactions are enabled on ETH 2.0, users can also exchange stETH for ETH,” the service clarifies.
There are two main risks to keep in mind with staking. First, if the validators using your ETH fail to perform the validating computer operation correctly, the rewards are lost to you and the validator. Second, you can lose half of your Ether stake if multiple games fail in this manner. Both scenarios are considered forms of cuts.
A broader and intriguing concern is that pools of lenders and validators, such as Lido, are becoming hotspots. This produces a number of issues, such as whether a pool can minimize malicious behavior from validators it monitors. A recent blog post by Lido staff notes that managing a large staking pool is an emerging discipline and is still being refined.
All of these issues are important to keep in mind, but shouldn’t discourage you from using your crypto to earn some cash on the side while helping save the planet.