SolarCoin is a new and interesting venture into the cryptocurrency space. The aim is to grant the majority of coins (99%) to people around the world who generate solar power. 1 SolarCoin = 1 MWh of solar energy production. The first official grant was given a few days ago to a woman in Phoenix, AZ. She provided her proof of generation back to 2010 of 23.559 MWh, verified with her provider SolarGuard, and 23.559 SolarCoins were sent to her wallet. You can see the transaction on the blockchain here.
While many of you seem to have an aversion to cryptocurrencies, I am of the same opinion as this guy:
Google Director of Ideas and former technology advisor to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Jared Cohen, says that digital “crypto-currencies” like Bitcoin are here to stay. “I think it’s very obvious to all of us that crypto-currencies are inevitable,” he told the audience at SXSW, in conversation with Chairman Eric Schmidt, to promote their co-authored book, The New Digital Age.
So let's not turn this into an argument about Bitcoin, ok? :)
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I happened on to this coin while researching bitcoin and I really liked the idea of tying a currency to solar power generation. I did a fair bit of research into the people leading the charge for SolarCoin and I was even more impressed.
Nick Gogerty is the public face for the SolarCoin Foundation and the basis of the idea came from a research paper he did back in 2011 called DeKo: An Electricity-Backed Currency Proposal. From the abstract:
Currencies play an important role in facilitating trade and economic growth. Shifts in currency values may lead to economic dislocations deleterious to trade and growth. Most currencies are issued by government central banks. These central banks hold assets in the form of government debt and gold against the currency they issue.
Alternatives to traditional debt and gold assets may make sense for central banks to hold as a supplement or substitute. One alternative asset for a central bank to hold consists of electricity delivering assets. Electricity delivering assets don’t need to be physical assets such as fuel or power plants, but rather may be claims in the form of standardized Power Purchase Agreements for the delivery of electricity from power producers.
Electricity delivering assets can hold their economic value more effectively than gold or debt due to price stability and resistance to devaluation from over-issuance. The DeKo-backed currency concept advocates a portfolio of diversified electricity delivering assets that offers more social benefits than gold and retains monetary value better than government debt.
It is a high level read but I do recommend reviewing the paper as it gives some insight into the background of SolarCoin and the level of commitment and intelligence from the people behind it.
This is a very new coin and there is still much to do before it becomes mainstream. However, if you do have solar panels and you do generate solar energy and it can be verified, then why not get yourself a wallet and apply to get your coins? It will cost you some time (downloading the wallet, forwarding the information to the Foundation, awaiting confirmation, etc.) but it won't cost you any money. And it could easily be worth something as the program continues to roll out over the coming years.
My personal pie in the sky vision is that as the effects of global warming become more and more alarming, the use of solar (and other alternatives) will become more in demand. The costs for solar are coming down at the same time. As this trend continues, more and more people will be generating solar power and will be eligible to get these coins. A market will develop and trade using SolarCoin will become more common. This is a way to do an economic AND green end run around the oil & gas behemoth that is holding the world hostage today.
Damn, we might even get to save the planet. Incentivize solar power generation to the masses with a future economic and trade benefit for everyone involved? Sounds pretty good to me.
But don't take my word for it, investigate it for yourself. And if you do generate solar power, go get some coins!
Here is a link to the forum.
Here is a link to the Facebook page.
UPDATE: The alpha program to claim your SolarCoins is live! Claim SolarCoins
UPDATE 2: It's been 10 days and I can't reply to A Siegel's comment below, so I decided to address the comment here. The comment quoted from the article referenced there is not accurate. Initially the SREC was intended to be used as proof of generation. There was never the intention to "exchange" the SREC for SolarCoins, the writer of that article didn't get that right... If you had an SREC, the idea was that you could use that to verify "proof of generation". You'd keep the SREC and get SolarCoins as well.
The rules governing proof of generation are continually being worked on, improved, etc.. It is my understanding now that using the SREC as proof of generation is no longer an option, perhaps because if you have an SREC, it doesn't necessarily mean that you were the one who generated the solar energy because you could have sold the SREC to someone else.
As for not being able to find any information, the FAQ page at solarcoin.org is a pretty good place to start. Here is the link: SolarCoin FAQ Hope this helps!