Sun Exchange says the purchase of solar cells in bitcoin demonstrates the power of cryptocurrency and innovative fintech to advance the clean energy transition and address the impact of South Africa’s pressing energy crisis on schools and other organizations.

Sun Exchange, a global solar leasing platform, today announced that a crypto investor has used bitcoin to fund a large solar project that will provide clean and affordable solar energy to Pretoria Boys’ High School in South Africa. Pretoria Boys High School is one of the most prominent high schools in South Africa and is also famous globally as one of the schools Elon Musk attended.

Now thanks to one of the school’s alumni who used the Sun Exchange platform to purchase 98% of all solar cells in the project, the individual will earn income for 20 years on the clean energy they generate, while the school gains solar power at zero capital cost. The project was still in pre-crowdsale open to Pretoria Boys High alumni and staff, and then one of the alumni, a crypto investor, decided to buy nearly the entire project.

Sun Exchange hosts solar crowdsales for schools, retirement homes, farms, and other organizations on its online platform, allowing any individual or business to buy solar cells (in bitcoin or regular currency) that power organizations in sunny, emerging markets. The organizations being solar powered pay for the clean energy generated. Solar cell owners can elect to receive their monthly income in either bitcoin or South African Rand, paid into an online wallet provided by the platform.

The 198kW solar system will cut 5,800 tonnes of carbon over 20 years, equivalent to taking 210,000 petroleum cars off the road for a year. It will reduce the school’s energy bills and, critically, reduce the education leader’s reliance on diesel generators during scheduled power outages, which have become a feature of South Africa’s ongoing energy crisis.

Saul Wainwright, CEO of Sun Exchange, said, “With the impacts of climate change becoming alarmingly real across the world, we must urgently scale solutions that address the solar finance gap for smaller solar projects in Africa, while also mitigating the energy crisis. This project and the purchase of solar cells by an alumnus of the school and crypto investor, demonstrate the power of cryptocurrency and innovative fintech to unlock capital for the clean energy transition. Together with our global community, we’re forging a path toward a more sustainable future, where clean energy and technological innovation combine to transform the landscape.”

“Solar energy and blockchain are two of the most exciting and transformative technologies of our age, and when I came across this solar project to power my alma mater, I was intrigued and excited,” said the anonymous investor. “Through the speed of global peer-to-peer digital transactions, as individuals we can finance and benefit from solar power at the click of a button, but also pioneer a new era of sustainable innovation.”

Founded in 1901, the prestigious state-run boys’ school in Pretoria provides over 1,500 students with a world class education. Among its noteworthy alumni of Rhodes scholars, supreme court judges, archbishops, business leaders and sporting heroes are 2021 Booker Prize Winner Damon Galgut, tech entrepreneur Elon Musk, international cricketer Mark Fish, and Max Theiler, who won the Nobel Prize for his vaccine against yellow fever.

“We are thrilled that an old boy of the school and crypto enthusiast has joined our sustainability journey,” said Greg Hassenkamp, Headmaster of Pretoria Boys High School. “Clean energy will benefit our entire campus, including our classrooms, laboratories, and special venues. At the same time the project will reduce our energy costs and carbon footprint, while also showcasing the significant influence of technology and innovation as the school heads towards a greener future.”

Since 2015, Sun Exchange has enabled solar power for 80+ businesses, farms, schools, and other organizations in Southern Africa. Its solar projects have generated more than 19 gigawatt-hours of clean energy, avoiding more than 19,000 tonnes of carbon emissions. Individuals and businesses from 180 countries across the world use the Sun Exchange platform to buy and own solar cells, produce clean electricity, and earn with purpose.

I am very excited about this project as I know Pretoria Boys High School very well. I spent over 7 years living in Pretoria. During my time at the University of Pretoria, I taught quite a few former Pretoria Boys High School students who would have moved up the road from the high school to the University of Pretoria. I am very excited to see more schools getting solar. It is always a good opportunity for students to get exposure to solar an early age when they can see it as part of the school’s energy mix on the monitoring platforms and customer-facing production dashboards on monitors in public places, for example.

Images courtesy of Sun Exchange


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