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Proof of Work consensus algorithms require the usage of massive amounts of electricity, for CPUs to mine for bitcoins and other alt coins.  

For bitcoin, it's coal-fueled mining facilities in China have become a subject of much attention and debate, as the miner's interests are only about generating bitcoins as a mining reward.  They do not focus on other metrics, such as uptime and network stability, as Ripple does.  Here are some pictures of one such mining operation:

bitcoin_power_pic.jpg.9a86a1bfff5a56bf0e035c5feee09b77.jpg                               bitcoin_power_pic2.jpg.07925da86a180529b800ffb761ec2631.jpg

In contrast, other types of consensus algorithms do not require this energy, because consensus can be achieved in other ways.  When it comes to blockchains, the most common alternative is a hybrid of a consensus approach known as "Proof of Stake," where the consensus is achieved by nodes that have the most "stake" or amount of coins.  (source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proof-of-stake ) This approach is still considered a bit of a novelty, and requires a hybrid approach to start off the blockchain at its beginning stages - essentially hard-coding in a starting distribution of the stake to initiate the protocol.  

The other consensus algorithm is one that has been proven stable over many years of use; the XRP consensus, which uses a byzantine consensus algorithm.  It's not considered a proof of work or a proof of state, but instead is centered around a "voting" mechanism among trusted nodes on a network.  This means that no "mining" is necessary on the RCL, and it is by far the most energy-efficient method of achieving transaction confirmations, even more so than a hybrid Proof of Stake.  

The enery consumption of those networks (such as ETH or BTC) is no small matter.  Bitcoin currently is estimated to generate 2,000,000 metric tons of CO2 every year.  I have seen no such estimate yet of Ethereum, but because it's a POW blockchain, it will require or imply electrical consumption to fuel its consensus algorithm, and to keep it's network secure (source:  reddit.com/r/ethereum/comments/3mchof/question_why_switch_to_pos/ )

The general public has shown a tendency to opt for "green energy" solutions in almost every industry where they know about the choice, or it's clearly labeled.  In the case of crypto-currency, Ripple has chosen not to trumpet the "green-ness" of their solution, instead focusing on its incredible efficiency, but for me, it's good to know that the environment is benefiting from my choice of investment as well! 

Stay Green! Buy XRP!   :yes3:

Edited by Hodor
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3 minutes ago, Veteralist said:

I wonder how much energy xrp/rcl use every year.

Good question.  The only point I'm sure about is that they use less - much less, most likely - energy to confirm transactions, based on the logic of their consensus protocol.  Actually, Stefan Thomas covered some of these topics in a presentation recently at Consensus (the two graphics above are from that presentation):

 

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