Meet Nova Energy: Building Sustainable Future in Web3 

Protocol Labs
Protocol Labs
Meet Nova Energy: Building a Sustainable Future in Web3

Snapshot: Incubated under Filecoin Green (opens new window), Nova Energy (opens new window) hopes to provide a comprehensive understanding of the environmental impact of various digital operations. This will be crucial as Web3 networks, AI models, and data centers continue to grow exponentially. Through monitoring and mitigating the environmental impacts of Web3 node operators, AI models, and general data center operations, Nova Energy offers an energy auditing process to catalyze a transition towards a greener digital world.

The Impact: Data centers and data transmission networks are already responsible for 1% of energy-related GHG emissions and are expected to grow substantially in the years to come, according to the IEA (opens new window). By highlighting the environmental impact of these operations, Nova Energy hopes to incentivize sustainable practices across the tech industry.

On Joining Protocol Labs: Nova Energy's journey began with incubation under Filecoin Green (opens new window), an initiative within Protocol Labs that develops sustainable solutions for the Filecoin ecosystem. Officially launched on March 1, 2024, Nova Energy has transitioned to become an integral part of the Protocol Labs ecosystem, leveraging its expertise to promote sustainability across broader sectors beyond Filecoin.

What's on the Radar: Nova Energy's main focus lies in refining its Energy Validation Process (opens new window) and Green Scores methodology (opens new window). By offering a comprehensive energy auditing process that provides quantifiable green scores, Nova Energy will empower Web3 node operators, AI models and data center operators to understand and improve their environmental performance. Additionally, Nova Energy is exploring partnerships and grant opportunities to develop granular energy monitoring dashboards across Web3 networks, similar to the Filecoin.Energy dashboard (opens new window) they maintain for the Filecoin ecosystem.

# How it Started: A Mission to Achieve a Greener Digital Future

Nova Energy is spearheaded by co-founders Marc Johnson (opens new window) (CEO) and Nima Ahmed (opens new window) (CTO).

While pursuing his master's at Columbia University, Johnson worked for ConsenSys (opens new window), an Ethereum venture studio in Brooklyn to immerse himself in the industry during the 2017-’18 crypto boom and bust. A pivotal moment came during his first year, when he interned with the United Nations Climate Change Secretariat (opens new window) in Bonn, Germany, as its "in-house blockchain expert,” educating UN officials on the technology’s role in climate action.

"This specific experience not only solidified my belief in the transformative power of blockchain but also sparked a passion for applying it towards a cause I deeply cared about – environmental sustainability," he said.

Following his short stint with the UNFCCC, Johnson ventured into the maritime sector, collaborating with teams in Copenhagen and the UK to develop blockchain-based solutions for tracking the environmental impact of fuels used by cargo ships and cruise liners.

Johnson’s path converged with Protocol Labs and Filecoin Green (opens new window) through his work at RMI (opens new window), and involvement in the Crypto Climate Accord (opens new window) (CCA). When developing the CCA’s Carbon Emissions Guidance for Crypto (opens new window), Johnson was introduced to the Founder of Filecoin Green, Dr. Alan Ransil (opens new window). Recognizing the need for sustainable solutions within the burgeoning Web3 ecosystem, Johnson leaped at the opportunity to join forces with Ransil (opens new window), Filecoin Green, and Protocol Labs in early 2022 to develop solutions to monitor and mitigate the environmental impact of the Filecoin Network.

# Challenges and Milestones: Solving Sustainability's Most Pressing Problems

The ever-increasing energy demands of the digital age pose a significant threat to our planet's health. Web3 networks, known for their decentralized and secure nature, rely on vast amounts of computational power. This power consumption translates to a growing environmental footprint, raising concerns about the long-term sustainability of the technology.

However, the challenge extends beyond Web3. The ever-growing sophistication of AI models requires immense computing resources, leading to a surge in data center energy consumption, and related water consumption for cooling purposes. These data centers, along with traditional web infrastructure, contribute significantly to global greenhouse gas emissions and water usage.

“One of the biggest hurdles we face is the lack of standardized methodologies for measuring the environmental impact of these digital operations,” explained Johnson. “Existing solutions often rely on incomplete data or lack transparency, making it difficult to assess the true environmental cost.”

Nova Energy aims to address this challenge by providing a comprehensive and transparent assessment framework. Its core product, the Energy Validation Process (opens new window), combined with its Green Scores methodology (opens new window), provides a granular and holistic view of a digital operation's environmental footprint. This empowers businesses and organizations to make data-driven decisions about their operations and identify areas for improvement.

Beyond establishing clear metrics, Nova Energy faces the challenge of raising awareness within the tech industry about the environmental impact of its activities. Many participants, particularly those operating smaller devices, might underestimate their collective contribution to the problem. Nova Energy hopes to bridge this gap by promoting education and fostering a culture of environmental responsibility within the digital landscape.

# Roadmap: Creating Incentives for a Sustainable Future

Nova Energy is currently laser-focused on refining its primary solutions. The team is finalizing a revamped platform that includes their Energy Validation Process and Green Scoring system. Scheduled for beta testing in early April, this platform will allow them to gather valuable user feedback and ensure its smooth operation before a full launch targeted for Q2 2024.

Looking ahead, Nova Energy has ambitious plans to expand its reach beyond Web3. While its initial focus targets Filecoin Storage Providers and other large blockchain networks, it aim to become the go-to solution for assessing the environmental impact of AI models and data center operations. This comprehensive approach will provide a holistic view of the digital landscape's environmental footprint, empowering businesses across various sectors to make informed decisions for a more sustainable future.

The company is actively seeking additional funding to support its growth and development efforts. These funds will be crucial in expanding its team size, further product development, and establishing partnerships with key players across the tech industry.

"Ultimately, Nova Energy's roadmap reflects our unwavering commitment to building a future where technological progress goes hand-in-hand with environmental responsibility," Johnson said.

In 2024, Protocol Labs is launching LabWeek Public Goods (opens new window), a decentralized conference held in the San Francisco Bay Area, California, from April 11-16, designed to engage in deep conversations and make connections to drive real progress in sustainability, decentralized science and public goods funding. Register here (opens new window) and subscribe (opens new window) to our LabWeek Public Goods newsletter to stay up to date.

→ Join us at Earth Commons (opens new window), an event designed to build bridges between climate entrepreneurs, academics, technologists, funders, NGOs, and international public institutions to explore the funding and governance of nature’s commons. Network with PL teams including Glow Labs (opens new window), Nova Energy (opens new window), Operad.AI (opens new window) and more.