South Africa’s Sun Exchange – a global solar micro-leasing marketplace – has teamed up with Powerhive, a Berkeley-based firm – to utilize the crypto-economy to finance solar micro-grids, which will deliver universal energy access to rural communities in Kenya.
The initiative is an interesting example of an emerging trend that’s exploring how blockchain-based finance can unlock renewable energy and sustainable development. This new partnership follows a partnership with the United Nations Development Programme announced a few months ago to pilot blockchain-based finance for solar in Eastern Europe.
More than 1 billion people today still live without electricity, which severely inhibits economic development and basic human rights including health, education, safety and security.
Sun Exchange and Powerhive have a shared mission of eliminating global energy poverty by combining sustainable, decentralised solar power with innovative technologies and financial instruments such as blockchain and digital currencies.
Through the new partnership, Powerhive has been named as the exclusive recipient of proceeds designated for solar project pre-financing from sales of the Sun Exchange SUNEX digital rewards token.
Powerhive will use the funds for building solar-powered rural electrification mini-grid projects, which include revenue and livelihood enhancing programs throughout sub-saharan Africa.
The solar panels that make up these projects will subsequently be offered for sale to Sun Exchange members, who will then be able to own cells within the projects and earn decades of “solar-powered money” from the electricity the projects produce.
When fully subscribed, this process is expected to catalyse $23 million of capital that will accelerate Powerhive’s solar powered mini-grid roll out, by funding about 150 new projects that will provide power to 175,000 people currently lacking power.
In addition to providing utility-grade power to communities, Powerhive operates wealth generation programmes within them, such as the solar-powered chicken incubation “Kuku Poa” initiative.
“The cryptocurrency community is made up of inspired individuals eager for more than just financial gain. Our partnership with Powerhive underscores the SUNEX token sale opportunity to support a crypto project geared directly towards reducing global inequality and climate impact,” said Abraham Cambridge, founder & CEO, Sun Exchange.
“Together, we are working towards a world where no one is forced to cook with unsafe kerosene or wood-burning stoves, no child has to worry about how they will study after dark, and lack of energy access ceases to propel cycles of poverty.”
Putting the available solar power to work for productive use drives overall economic development and prosperity, ensuring access to energy remains ever more affordable to the customers buying it.
“Over the past seven years Powerhive has built a vertically integrated platform that allows us to identify, construct and operate the highest quality and lowest cost solar-powered mini-grids in Africa,” said Powerhive’s founder and CEO, Christopher Hornor.
“At the heart of our projects are the communities we serve. By providing the power platform first and then layering in productive use programmes, we create a virtuous cycle of economic and personal empowerment that provides steady profits for both our customers and our investors. Our partnership with Sun Exchange will now give almost anyone the opportunity to invest in innovative low-carbon development projects in Africa and beyond.”