South African Solar Energy Blockchain Startup Raises $3 Million, Plans to Expand Across Continent


South African blockchain peer-to-peer renewable energy platform Sun Exchange obtained a $3 million investment from ARCH Emerging Markets Partners, thereby closing its $4 million Series-A funding round, according to a statement issued today.

Sun Exchange allows international clients to buy remotely-located solar cells — either with Bitcoin (BTC) or South African Rand — and then lease them to power businesses and organisations in emerging markets. Abe Cambridge, the startup’s CEO and founder, told Cointelegraph:

“Solar cell owners earn income from the electricity that’s generated, while schools, businesses, clinics and other organisations gain access to affordable clean energy, reducing electricity costs and carbon emissions.” 

With the new investment, the Sun Exchange will reportedly allow clients “to further diversify their solar cell portfolios across regions and industries”. The company is also exploring a number of different markets in Sub-Saharan Africa, including Namibia, Zimbabwe and Nigeria, Cambridge told Cointelegraph. 

Energy consumption issue

Bitcoin’s consensus model, Proof-of-Work (PoW), is known to consume vast amounts of energy across the globe. According to the latest data from Digiconomist, the cryptocurrency’s annualized total footprint equals 58.78 terawatt-hours (TWh), which is comparable to the power consumption of the entire country of Israel.

When asked whether they are concerned about the amount of electricity consumed by Bitcoin, Cambridge told Cointelegraph: 

“Although bitcoin mining is energy intensive, it is more efficient than the alternative banking system, and the race is on to mine bitcoin in the most efficient manner possible, using the lowest cost energy — which is now solar energy in places with abundant sunshine. We hope bitcoin mining can be solar powered.”

The energy that solar cells produce over their lifetime “is far greater than the energy it took to mine the Bitcoin that purchased them, creating a positive energy balance,” the CEO went on to add. 

Other peer-to-peer solar power initiatives

In May, Australian firm Power Ledger announced a partnership with Thai Digital Energy Development (TDED) to create a blockchain-based peer-to-peer digital energy platform in the country.