IOTHow Bitcoin Contributions Funded a $1.4M Solar Installation in...

How Bitcoin Contributions Funded a $1.4M Solar Installation in Zimbabwe


Long-running Sun Exchange has a pitch to bitcoiners who are eco-conscious.

The South African Sun Exchange, a solar power investment community that uses bitcoin to raise capital and pay investors has achieved the highest-value crowdsourced project of its type in Africa.

The Nhimbe Fresh project in Zimbabwe is a producer of berries and vegetables, which includes 250 tiny-scale farmers has raised funds of around $1.4 Million worth of solar cells purchased by more than 1,905 people from the globe, with the majority of them using bitcoin to transact.

Sun Exchange deployed the first solar project funded by bitcoin back in 2016, and it was presented at the CoinDesk Consensus Event located in New York that year. Sun Exchange has invested in more than 50 solar projects, netting more than $9 million. It’s among the few large-scale projects from the beginning days to be still in existence and growing.

“These projects are mainly in schools, farms, supermarkets, and retirement homes, many of them in South Africa,” Sun Exchange founder Abe Cambridge said in an interview. “These are organizations which otherwise wouldn’t have the capital available to build their solar plant, nor would they want to go and raise debt.”


‘Virtuous spiral’

Sun Exchange’s proposal offers an in-built carbon offset feature for bitcoiners who are environmentally conscious. ( Projects like Filecoin Green have been exploring integrating carbon offset into cryptocurrency.)

There are different philosophies of democratization behind both solar and cryptocurrency that allow access to finance and energy sources, Cambridge declared.

“A beautiful sort of virtuous spiral happens when you invest bitcoin into solar,” Cambridge explained. “It takes around 3000 megawatts of electricity to create one bitcoin. Then, if you decide to utilize that bitcoin to pay for solar energy, the generators you’ve purchased by using one bitcoin will generate 3.6 gigawatts of energy. That’s 10-fold more power.”

Sun Exchange allows any investor to purchase solar power assets. These usually are rooftop panels that generate the amount they invested over a lease of 20 years. The rate is approximately 11 percent for the South African rand (ZAR) and is later changed into bitcoins for payment into investors’ accounts from around the world.

A technique consisting of dollar-cost average, which is a method of smoothing bitcoin’s volatility by buying bitcoin in a period, has been utilized by the project to increase the yield potential of the contributors.

“BTC payouts are paid monthly based on the BTC price in the spot market at the time of payout. In other words, if the BTC price falls by half a month, that means you will receive twice the BTC over the month if the BTC price is the same as it was in the previous month. When the BTC price rises, the price rises boost the value of the accumulated BTC,” a Sun Exchange spokesperson told CoinDesk via email.

Additionally, Cambridge said there are positive aspects of this circle, like the hardening of security in energy access, reliability, and reliability to new markets. For example, the Zimbabwe project is equipped with batteries that can store energy in the event of any issues in the national grid, and South Africa, where many of the solar projects on the platform are located, has frequent blackouts that roll in.

Sun Exchange also recently kicked off the crowd sale of Karoo Fresh. Karoo Fresh Project is the first entirely off-grid system.

“For me, it seems like a tragic waste of energy if the value of bitcoin is not put to good use like this,” Cambridge stated. “The fact that we built a portal to help unlock that value and good which bitcoin can do is I think why we’ve got the traction in the market that we have.”


Aizaz khan
Aizaz khan
Aizaz was the first person to get a byline on his blog on technology from his home in Bannu in 2017. Then, he went on to a career in breaking things professionally at my electric sparks which is where he eventually took over the kit as a hardware editor. Today, as the senior editor of hardware for my electric sparks, he spends time reporting about the most recent developments in the hardware industry and technology. If he's not reporting on hardware or electronics, you'll see him trying to be as remote from the world of technology as possible through camping in the wild.


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