Blockchain startup Sun Exchange has partnered with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) on a pilot program that seeks to bring solar power to a university in Moldova.
The solar cells will be owned by individuals around the world and leased to the recipient university, which allows the school to save on the costs of building the equipment, according to a blog post. Notably, the cells' owners will be paid exclusively in cryptocurrency.
Sun Exchange chief executive Abe Cambridge said the university would lease the cells for 20 years, during which time whoever owns them would receive some amounts of bitcoin, solarcoin and the startup's own crypto token as compensation. The "buy-to-lease" platform allows these individuals to pay for the cost of building and the installation of the solar cells, which sell for under $10 apiece.
While the UN blog post mentions the Technical University of Moldova as a likely recipient for the pilot program, the actual school has not yet been determined, Cambridge told CoinDesk. However, the panels are scheduled to begin generating power within the next three months.
While right now the startup helps people purchase and lease the cells, Cambridge ultimately wants the cells to be directly tradeable on exchanges through a representative token, he said, adding:
The startup is helping people become familiar with trading cryptocurrencies he said, noting that "a lot of our customers are using bitcoin for the very first time," but that "about three quarters ... ask to be paid back in bitcoin rather than their [fiat] currency."
If the project is successful, it could be expanded into more nations, he added.
UNDP project manager Dumitru Vasilescu, who is overseeing the pilot program, told CoinDesk that the "decision to partner with Sun Exchange is based on our understanding of the replicability of their model."
He said that if the project is successful, "we will search for replication in countries where UNDP operates."
"We are currently preparing for the pilot and will be soon looking into potential [Engineering, Procurement and Construction] companies," Vasilescu explained.
Solar cells image via Shutterstock
The leader in news and information on cryptocurrency, digital assets and the future of money, CoinDesk is an award-winning media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. In November 2023, CoinDesk was acquired by Bullish group, owner of Bullish, a regulated, institutional digital assets exchange. Bullish group is majority owned by Block.one; both groups have interests in a variety of blockchain and digital asset businesses and significant holdings of digital assets, including bitcoin. CoinDesk operates as an independent subsidiary, and an editorial committee, chaired by a former editor-in-chief of The Wall Street Journal, is being formed to support journalistic integrity.