By Justin Bull
February 13, 2014
A team of volunteers has launched a new initiative to create better incentives for solar energy generators. The result is “SolarCoin”, the first digital currency designed to connect digital investors with renewable energy.
SolarCoin works in a similar way to BitCoin, a virtual currency that has skyrocketed in value and popularity in the past 12 months. BitCoin offers users the chance to conduct transactions without the involvement of financial institutions, service fees or central banks. Proponents argue that because the currency is algorithmically produced and locally stored, it is extremely difficult to hack.
Each SolarCoin will be worth 1MW/hr of solar energy, which equates to up to 680kg of avoided C02 emissions. The SolarCoin Foundation will pre-produce coins and distribute them to companies who provide a Solar Renewable Energy Certificate (SREC), available to energy producers in US states that have legislation to promote solar energy. The Foundation has also provided an algorithm to allow additional coins to be “mined”, using a less energy-intensive process than BitCoin.
Although the SolarCoin is currently targeted towards US energy producers, its founders are reaching out to other high-profile markets like Germany and the United Kingdom. By expanding the scope of the currency, SolarCoin hopes to spur a global market for renewable energy investment.
Creating new digital currencies has emerged as an exciting growth industry. Humint is a firm specializing in creating digital currencies for different brands and causes. Bex, a Vancouver-based startup is helping individuals around the globe establish and operate their own digital currency exchanges. Although virtual currencies are new, controversial and disruptive, they are likely here to say.
With entrepreneurs minting new currencies, developing new business models, and now connecting with social issues like climate change, clean tech investors could find ways to be involved. According to Jesse Heaslip, co-founder of Bex and organizer of the upcoming Canada Bitcoin Conference, “ It may not be long before WindCoins, GeoThermalCoins, BiomassCoins – or currencies representing virtually anything that can we can quantify – emerge.”