Solar innovation is transforming economies at scale. This is self-evident as oil, coal, and gas are finite resources. Without energy, commerce ceases to exist. Without the large-scale adoption of solar and other renewable energy sources, once-powerful economies will reach a point of stagnation.
The challenge that the renewables sector faces is that entire industries are hard-wired around oil and gas. Fossil fuels have long-been considered stable investments for institutional investors. But change is inevitable: according to one study, half of the S&P 500 companies are expected to be replaced in the next 10 years.
Meanwhile, the commercial viability of renewable energy sources is booming. Even without subsidies, new wind and solar plants are more cost and resource efficient than coal, nuclear, and natural gas power plants. Costs are continuing to drop in India, China, Australia, and throughout the Middle East. Yet still, the world relies on fossil fuels. Regulatory hurdles, geopolitical complexities, and barriers to change are bogging down clean energy adoption.
Enter the open market—a force of its own.
It’s inevitable that clean energy will become the new norm. But the biggest sources of change will not necessarily be government, private, or philanthropic sectors. Evolution will come from all three sectors, accelerated by changes in financial markets. SolarCoin (symbol: SLR), a cryptocurrency launched in 2014, has the potential to accelerate solar adoption. Here’s why.
|SolarCoin by solarcoin.org|
What is SolarCoin?
The fundamental idea is to reward residential and commercial buyers for solar energy generation and decrease the payback time of an installation. Each SolarCoin in circulation represents 1 Mwh of solar electricity generation.
SolarCoin, unlike Bitcoin which is ‘mined’ using extensive computing resources, is analogous to an airline miles or rewards program. SolarCoins are exchangeable for Bitcoins and fiat money on a number of cryptocurrency exchanges. The currency is versatile, intended to align short-term revenue gains with long-term value generation—to build a more sustainable playing field for solar economics.The SolarCoin Foundation runs this program through an open community project, run by volunteers. The organization maintains a public ledger detailing each SolarCoin given to electricity generators. Transactions are also publicly visible in the SolarCoin Blockchain. While the technology is similar to Bitcoin, the end goals are different. Bitcoin’s aim is a decentralized currency, and while SolarCoin shares this secure state, the goal is to create incentives for solar energy adoption over the next 40 years.
SolarCoin is in its early days, mirroring global solar adoption. But trends over the last three years show an ambitious trajectory. In October 2016, SolarCoin was worth $0.06 per unit, with one SolarCoin unit representing 1 MWh of solar energy generation.
Today, SolarCoin is worth about $0.20, with a market cap of $6,505,394. Analysts project that SolarCoin could be worth between $20-$35 by the end of 2019. Solar energy producers receive SolarCoins as a free reward, with 99% of SolarCoins being given to 97,500 TWh over 40 yrs.
The viability and value of SolarCoin is directly tied to energy usage. One analyst, with the alias @nphacker, asserts that SolarCoin will be a viable investment for the following reasons:
- SEIA states that over the past decade solar has "experienced an annual compound growth rate of 60%.
- Solar installation costs are becoming cheaper.
- SolarCoin supports a good cause.
- Development communities include a unique mix of innovators ranging from scientists to software architects.
Build the Future of SolarCoin
Open Solar Energy generation data project ElectriCChain has assembled a team from organizations including MIT, IOTA, NASA, and Parc. But the organization is looking for perspectives, far and wide. Collaboration between private, public, governments, and think tanks are crucial to the future of this technology—as the value of SolarCoin increases, so will the adoption of solar. The effect is cyclical.
What’s important to remember is that cryptocurrencies are new investment markets—as is solar technology. Even the smartest minds are newcomers to this space. There are two ways that organizations can contribute to ongoing development research around SolarCoin:
- Join the ElectriCChain Slack channel. This community has 12 projects at various stages of development. The community includes anonymous observers from leading companies, participants from leading universities, power producers, government agencies, and other organizations. Projects include the development of micro-grids in Africa as well as research into space-based currency transaction.
- Join the SolarCoin Foundation Slack channel. This is a forum maintained by independent community members, inviting cross-sector innovators to collaborate and share ideas.
SolarCoin has the potential to increase adoption by delivering a faster ROI on initial panel costs. Image via ElectriCChain
Renewables innovators need to pay close attention to incentives. While solar makes economic sense, markets need re-wiring and realignment. Fossil fuels have a finite shelf life. It is imperative that technology keep up.
Learn how your solar investment can go beyond utility cost savings—to align economies of scale with a more sustainable world.