SolarCoin hopes to rail the bitcoin hum – POLITICO


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LATEST: European Parliament leaders decry ‘lack of clarity’ on Brexit from UK

SolarCoin hopes to rail the bitcoin hum

The solar power digital currency hopes to spur interest in renewable energy.

8/22/17, Ten:00 AM CET

Updated 8/26/17, Five:Nineteen AM CET

SolarCoins work like a prize program for solar power generators | Pascal Guyot/AFP via Getty Pictures

SolarCoins work like a prize program for solar power generators | Pascal Guyot/AFP via Getty Photos

Bitcoin hit a record value of over $Four,480 this month, and the cryptocurrency’s steep rise is attracting copycats — one of which, SolarCoin, hopes to boost solar energy by providing people an incentive to go green.

SolarCoins work like a prize program for solar power generators: People or businesses with solar panels can get a coin for each megawatt hour of electro-stimulation their solar panels generate. Users have to send scans of verified meter readings as proof of power generation, which are checked by volunteers.

An average individual producer in Belgium would get about five SolarCoins per year, said François Sonnet, an advisor to the SolarCoin project who is also co-founder of ElectriCChain, a solar energy generation data project that helps with the disbursement of the digital currency.

Unlike bitcoins, SolarCoins aren’t yet going to make anyone rich. The average value of a coin is about eighteen cents, up from six cents at the beginning of this year. That gives the hypothetical individual Belgian solar power producer an annual windfall of about ninety cents.

But the ambitions are big.

Halting early steps aren’t preventing the project’s founders from dreaming of vast riches.

The project began in 2014, and its founders set a maximum limit of 97.Five billion SolarCoins that can be claimed over the next forty years, based on solar power generation estimates from the International Energy Agency, Sonnet said. They are stored in a reserve account wielded by the Solarcoin Foundation and will be exchanged step by step as solar panel owners claim them.

“The idea is to create a global network of solar installations so that people can begin using this digital asset as a means to buy, trade and sell goods and services into this currency,” said Sonnet.

About 240,000 SolarCoins, worth a total of about €43,000, have gone to solar power producers in thirty nine countries, Sonnet said.

Users can explosion their coins in an online wallet application, shop online from stores that playmate with the project, or trade them for dollars, euros or other currencies on Lykke Exchange, a Swiss-based exchange platform.

“At the moment there are not that many shops doing that,” Sonnet said.

A few business are accepting SolarCoins. ekWateur, a Paris-based independent renewable energy distributor with about 13,000 customers, began taking the digital currency in March. It has seen three transactions with SolarCoins so far from two different customers, one worth €4 and the other two worth about €100, said Julien Tchernia, president of ekWateur.

Tchernia said he plans to exchange the SolarCoins for euros in the fall.

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