An initiative by the South African solar power marketplace, Sun Exchange will soon allow people to buy solar cells using digital currency, reports Reuters.
Under the plan, buyers of solar cells will be able to pay using the solar energy blockchain startup — ElectriCChain’s own currency SolarCoin, bitcoin or euros. They can then lease the cells to the Technical University of Moldova, one of the country’s largest universities.
Moldova, bordered by Romania and Ukraine in Eastern Europe, has seen its energy prices rise by more than a half in the past five years. The initiative will attempt to power the university with the cryptocurrency funded solar energy in the hope that it could be replicated elsewhere if successful.
As Moldova is one of Europe’s poorest countries, lack of finance has been an obstacle, often with a wait of 10 to 15 years for companies to get returns on investment. Program manager with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Dumitru Vasilescu, wants to “help buildings go green overnight,” but to do so will require finding new sources of finance.
“Moldova currently has over 10,000 square meters of unused rooftop space on public buildings that could be potentially used for such efforts,” said Vasilescu, going on to predict that the university itself would receive a full 1 megawatt of energy installed in the summer as a result of the crowdfunding. Cell owners will receive SolarCoins, as soon as the university produces energy, earning interest of about 4 percent on their investment.
Darius Nassiry, a senior research associate at the Overseas Development Institute — a British think tank, sees crypto funded energy mainly occurring in underdeveloped or developing countries. Also, cryptocurrency-funded renewable energy could reduce Moldova’s dependence on energy imports such as oil and gas from Russia, Vasilescu suggested.
Kevin Treco, an associate director at the Carbon Trust, an environmental consultancy, sees blockchain-based technologies significantly changing the energy use in countries striving to decentralize power and boost renewable sources.
“They have faster-growing energy needs… and a more accommodating legal and regulatory environment towards such innovations,” he said
UNDP’s Vasilescu suggested that if such crypto-funded schemes were successful, they could revolutionize renewable energy markets in Eastern Europe and Asia.
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