Sunny money: The next cryptocurrency trend

First there was Bitcoin.

It was followed by scores of cryptocurrency competitors. Now there’s SolarCoin.

Think of it as solar energy’s equivalent of frequent-flyer miles.

People or businesses that generate solar electricity can claim one SolarCoin for every megawatt-hour of solar electricity they generate and can document through their utility. Players submit proof to the SolarCoin Foundation, which credits the player’s account with digital credits to make other purchases.

The purpose is to create additional incentives to abandon gas and oil and switch to solar power.

SolarCoin uses the same technology to account for and manage transactions that Bitcoin does. Also, like Bitcoin, SolarCoins can be used as digital currency between any two people that agree that SolarCoins represent genuine value.

The SolarCoin Foundation hopes that value will reach $30 per coin; so far, the average value in actual transactions is closer to 12 cents. But in the cryptocurrency world, it could skyrocket to a dollar… or hundreds of dollars… in a digital second.

Yet, despite its current low cash value, more than 10,000 solar installations have claimed their coins, which number more than 34 million in circulation in 23 countries.

The SolarCoin Foundation has “minted” enough SolarCoins to reward 97.5 trillion watt-hours of solar electricity generated through 2054. Already, ekWateur, a French alternative-energy utility, accepts SolarCoins as payment from customers.

TREND FORECAST: The use of these cryptocurrencies will continue to expand among interest groups, creating networks of value that overlap each other in places. Assuming the absence of abuses or discouragement-inducing regulations by government, these boutique digital currencies will continue to flow into the mainstream.

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