Dashboard Guide

Green Polkadot Dashboard provides ongoing insights into the Polkadot network’s energy consumption, energy mix and its associated carbon footprint.

The data contained within the dashboard can be used to inform the conversation around Polkadot’s carbon footprint and blockchain technologies in general. In addition, it can be used to help define carbon mitigation and compensation strategies for project stakeholders.

The bottom-line is that public, transparent, and accessible data is critical to ensure that we are doing what we can to mitigate our personal and collective impact on the climate.

The carbon footprint of the network is determined by the amount of power that is consumed to secure and validate the network, as well as the carbon intensity of the electricity that is consumed for said activities.

The network’s power consumption is primarily a function of the number of nodes and validators that are active, and the power rating of the hardware (which includes memory cards, harddrives, and CPUs) that they use.

The carbon intensity of the network is determined by the amount of energy the hardware uses, and the physical location of network activity. Regions that have a higher dependency on fossil fuels have higher carbon intensities, and those with more renewables and nuclear have lower carbon intensities. Localized variables such as whether any locally produced renewable energy is used to displace the consumption of grid electricity, or whether low or zero carbon energy suppliers are used to supply power operations.

The dashboard considers these variables by considering three main data sources.

Firstly, it pulls live data from the network using the https://telemetry.polkadot.io" API, to define fundamental characteristics of the network, including:

• the number of active nodes and validators

• the spatial distribution of node operators

• the type of hardware used that is used across the network.

Secondly, the dashboard collects self-report data from Parachain operators to fill data gaps from the API in this area (i.e. the API itself does not have complete data, particularly for Parachains). The data requested from Parachain operators includes:

• any renewable sources they may use to power their activities

• physical location of network activities

• the type of hardware that they use

Finally, it also pulls data from leading, public sources to define the power rating of hardware used, the grid emissions factors and energy mix of the electricity system (i.e. how much electricity is generated from renewable sources, from fossil fuel sources, and the derived grid emissions intensities) in countries where network activity takes place.

Over time, as awareness around the dashboard grows, and more self-report data is given to the dashboard, the granularity and accuracy of the data will improve.

The dashboard uses a set of hard assumptions that can be updated intermittently as data becomes updated, or more available. For example, information on national energy mixes and grid intensities are typically updated on a yearly basis as energy systems evolve. In addition, the type of hardware used across the network may be updated overtime as older machines are updated with newer products available on the market.

A number of static assumptions are used in the dashboard to inform its outputs including:

• Where no location information of a given node or validator is given, and average emissions factor of 0.29gCO2e/kWh is applied.

• Average Memory Power Drain: 3W/8GB of RAM.

• Average CPU Thermal Design Power: 105W.

In addition, the specific work done by a given node or validator is not specifically known, nor is it directly tracked by the network. Hence, the following assumptions validator utilization rate: 95%; and node utilization rate: 5% are used.

The dashboard also includes information regarding the assumed rate of zero carbon and fossil fuel power from the network. The energy mix definitions used are as follows: zero carbon: nuclear energy, biofuels, wind, solar and hydropower; fossil fuels include gas, coal and oil.

The dashboard itself includes the carbon emissions from the securing of the Polkadot network.

It is challenging to apply traditional carbon accounting principles to a blockchain network, as a distributed network of computers operates differently to that of an organization which consumes energy directly to enable business operations that are performed. However, the consumption of electricity which is produced off-site, but is consumed by a given entity would be considered “Scope 2” emissions and the analogy made here is that this dashboard considers Polkadot’s Scope 2 emissions. Scope 1 emissions on the other hand are defined as those derived from energy generated directly by a given entity’s own assets, and are assumed to be 0 – given that the network does not fundamentally require heating or transport to secure itself.

The dashboard does not intend to consider Scope 3 emissions of the network (i.e. emissions produced upstream and downstream from the organization). It therefore does not consider emissions derived from any organizational activities of the organizations that support the network, emissions from adjacent blockchain networks that the Polkadot ecosystem may interact with, or the carbon footprint of the hardware required to secure the network. Each of these areas for Scope 3 emissions may be considered as part of further work.