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June 29, 2022

NFT Energy Use: Do NFTs Use a Lot of Energy? + Environmental Impact

NFTs have taken the world by storm, especially in recent years. All signs point to NFTs being here to stay, so it’s only natural that we’re looking into how viable they are right now. We’re not talking about the positives they bring to cause and the value they have, but the greenhouse gas emissions they produce. Is NFT energy use worth the carbon emissions?

How Much Energy Does An NFT Produce?

The amount of energy required for NFTs from minting, and listing to selling will vary depending on the blockchain technology you build it on. We’re going to take the Ethereum blockchain as an example throughout this article as it is the largest chain for NFTs.

• Average Energy Consumption of NFT transactions

Minting on Ethereum

Since Ethereum is the most popular and largest chain as of now for NFTs, they handle thousands of transactions on their digital platform every day. And it doesn’t just stop there, NFT platforms require more gas fees and energy when it’s peak time, which is when more people are using the Ethereum platform for transactions.

The average energy use on Ethereum will be different from other chains such as Binance Smart Chain (BSC), Cardano and Solana, as they work differently, and we’ll cover why a bit later.

How Much Energy Is Consumed During An Ethereum Transaction Use?

On Ethereum, the average energy consumption of an average transaction is equal to about 48 kilowatt-hours (kWh), which is the energy needed for one and a half days of an average household in the US.

How Much Energy Does It Cost to Mint an NFT?

Unlike physical art, where the creative process entails the artist making the piece, NFTs go through a process called minting, which is the creation of the crypto art, and energy use begins there.

The minting energy cost is more than just an NFT transaction on Ethereum. In fact, it’s quite a lot more. On average, minting NFTs on Ethereum will take 142 kWh of energy. 

The Reason NFTs Consume A Lot Of Energy?

These figures are staggering, which begs the question of why NFTs on some chains are not as energy efficient as others. The environmental impact is not something to balk at. We mentioned Ethereum consumes more energy than some other blockchains, and we’ll explain why. 

• Proof of Work

Proof of work (POW) is the consensus algorithm that Ethereum uses which is very energy-intensive. It’s not the non-fungible tokens themselves that take the energy and emit high greenhouse gas emissions, it’s the algorithm. Proof of work requires miners (those working to tokenize an NFT) to compete for verification. It works on a first-come-first-serve basis, so whoever verifies the tokenization first will get the rewards.

How do you become the first one? It’s a battle of power (computer power). The more powerful your computer or computers are, the more likely it is for you to verify and earn the commission. All the energy other miners have used is wasted. Bitcoin is also a proof of work chain. 

• Proof of Stake

In order to combat what these larger chains are doing to impact climate change, smaller and newer chains are now adopting the proof-of-stake (POS) consensus algorithm to limit energy usage. The required energy on a proof of stake chain is vastly lower. Miners do not have to compete against each other for verification on a POS chain because a validator automatically verifies the transaction.

POS is considered a greener option and it doesn’t take as much energy as POW chains do, which in turn, minimizes a collector’s carbon footprint. We see more chains adopting the POS consensus algorithm as it is more efficient and sustainable. You don’t have to be a climate activist to appreciate the low electricity costs. 

NFT Energy Consumption Comparison

How do NFTs on the Ethereum ecosystem compare to ones on the POS algorithm? Regular transactions such as listing and selling take roughly 48 kWh, as we previously stated, and making NFTs (minting) takes a whopping 142 kWh. Analysts have said that an average NFT consumes 75 kilowatt-hour throughout its lifetime, and this is with all transactions incurred on a POS chain. When you look at this realistically, Ethereum NFTs use 2.5 times more energy than an average American household, which is around 3o kWh.

Do NFTs Damage the Environment?

Again, we stress that what consumes energy and damages the environment is not the NFT itself, but the algorithm for tokenization and verification. 

If you compare digital art to physical art, what we traditionally see in an art studio or gallery, are NFTs really better?

One artist needs to account for the transportation impact of moving their pieces from one gallery to the next, the VOCs emitted when they create their pieces and the environmental impact of the type of art they make. When you think about all the other artists out there creating at the same time, the damage is quite considerable. 

 While NFTs are not a form of renewable energy, it does help with consumption, but only if you use POS. The biggest problem we’re seeing in the NFT market right now is a trend of artists creating six NFTs or a larger number and selling them for cheaper rather than minting a single NFT or limited to sell it for a higher price.

Why is this an issue? Because it takes the same amount of energy to validate an NFT, regardless of the price they sell for. So more pieces for a lower price will decrease the barrier of entry for people without much capital, and then more energy is used for each transaction, and you will see a higher gas fee (transaction fee). 

Improving the Energy Consumption of NFTs

The vast majority of NFT supporters, both artists and collectors alike, are aware of the environmental implications of a single Ethereum transaction and are making moves to improve the use of energy. 

• Aligning with Environmental Goals by 2030

There is a goal to make NFTs carbon neutral by 2030, and the roadmap includes the following milestones. 

  • Decarbonize New Mints

Use POS blockchain governed by more validators.

  • Tokenize the Physical Economy

Create a more sustainable physical world by tokenizing real-world items.

  • Decarbonize Existing tokens

Options to move POW tokens to POS chains.

  • Upgrade Nodes to Carbon-Neutral

Use renewable energy or greener energy options to build blockchains.

  • Incentivize Carbon Reduction and Removal Technologies

More funds for projects that are focused on energy efficiency, renewable energy, and sustainability.  

• Ethereum 2.0

Ethereum also recognizes its own inefficiency and is currently developing Ethereum 2.0, which will be a more scalable, secure, and sustainable option than the first version. They plan to do this by adopting the POS algorithm.

• How Artists Can Help


Artists can help by pricing their NFTs right (not too low) and this can be done by researching the competition on platforms such as NFT Drops. They can also look at blockchains that are focused on renewable energy and more sustainable practices such as Cardano and Algorand, both gaining popularity. 

These two are considered green chains that take their environmental impact very seriously. Buyers and artists can also look at which NFT marketplaces have more efficient technology. 


• How many watts does an NFT use?

An NFT uses approximately 75 kWh in its lifetime, and this is including all transactions. This is an average estimate and the number will vary depending on the chain. Ethereum NFTs are notoriously more expensive, but the blockchain is creating a more efficient version of itself. 

• Does Ethereum use less energy?

No, Ethereum doesn’t use less energy. In fact, it uses more. Ethereum is one of the most costly blockchains to mint and transact on because it uses the POW (proof of work) algorithm that requires miners to compete with each other for verification and tokenization, taking a lot of computer power.


While many chains may not have been energy efficient at first, many of them are now recognizing the impact they have on the environment and taking steps to rectify it by switching to POS algorithms to improve NFT energy use. Consider the impact of your transactions when selecting a blockchain and marketplace. 

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