Launched in 2014 in Cape Town, South Africa with $60,000 in seed investment from Silicon Valley investors, fintech Start-up The Sun Exchange has just launched a solar energy product that may well be the solution you are looking to ‘cut down on your carbon footprint’ or ‘go solar’.
The online market place that sells units of solar panels called ‘cells’ and then lets the purchaser lease them to be used by any of the solar projects on offer. Each solar cell costs ZAR 105 / (~USD$7.50).
For non-South Africans The Sun Exchange accepts the new ‘money of the internet’, Bitcoin, to make international payments very quick and easy.
The businesses and communities renting the solar cells from The Sun Exchange’s users pay by the kWh of electricity consumed from them. This means that the income generated from owning a solar cell is directly linked to the amount of solar energy it produces.
Although The Sun Exchange was designed for anyone to receive reliable long-term rental income, the initial motivation of the company’s founder, solar entrepreneur Abraham Cambridge, was to create a way of saving that was more environmentally responsible, he explained, “As I turned 30 I knew I should start thinking about saving for the future, even if it meant only setting aside a little each month. As someone that has serious concerns about human impact on the environment, I was disappointed that I couldn’t find a way of saving money that wasn’t in some way linked to investing in fossil fuels.
“Having run a solar panel installation company in the UK, I knew that people install solar panels as a way of earning a reliable source of income backed by the never ending power of the sun. But like many people I couldn’t afford the upfront costs of going solar myself and not owning my own home meant I didn’t have anywhere to install them anyway,” said Cambridge. “So I set out to create The Sun Exchange, a solar energy crowd-selling hub that makes it possible for anyone to buy low cost solar cells that are installed in large scale solar projects located in the sunniest locations on earth. Income is not reliant on government subsidies and solar cells are providing electricity to those that need it the most. Someone living in an apartment in rainy London can now own solar assets located in Africa whilst earning a modest income from them.’
The Sun Exchange claim that their predictions of the amount of solar energy produced by their solar cells have a 90% certainty. It is on that basis that they say solar cell owners can receive a predictable income stream that averages out at 10% annually each year of the ZAR value of the purchase price for the duration of each 20 year lease.
The Sun Exchange doesn’t install the projects themselves, instead they team up with solar companies already operating across Africa and other countries in the less economically developed world. One such partnership is with international solar installation company, Soventix, the installation partner for their current project to solar power a tyre re-treading factory in Rustenburg, South Africa.
For that project there are over 10,000 solar cells for sale that will earn you a solar powered income until 2037 whilst electrifying a key African industry with clean and reliable electricity. It is so simple that even if saving money or going solar wasn’t your new years resolution, perhaps now it should be!