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Sun Exchange

Take climate action by investing in solar cells in the sunniest places on Earth.

Solar has become one of the most attractive ways to invest in a carbon-free future. With widespread government support and falling costs, investors have an opportunity to acquire projects that generate predictable income from power purchase agreements. And increasingly, these types of projects are available through crowdfunding platforms.

Let's look at how Sun Exchange enables anyone to invest in solar cells and generate income by selling their power output.

Who's Behind Sun Exchange?


Abe Cambridge founded Sun Exchange after studying climate change science and working for a solar panel installation business in the United Kingdom. After moving to South Africa in 2014, he worked as a solar engineering consultant and was struck by the lack of solar panels on rooftops in one of the sunniest regions on Earth.

A year later, Abe quit his day job and built Sun Exchange to help connect South African schools and businesses with zero upfront cost solar panels financed by investors worldwide. The organization also leverages Bitcoin to make cross-border payments, enabling anyone from around the world to make investments and access solar-powered income streams.

Today, Sun Exchange has successfully crowdfunded more than 40 solar projects with the help of members across 180 different countries, totaling over one million solar cells and 5.2 GWh of clean energy.

How Sun Exchange Works


Sun Exchange is the world's first peer-to-peer solar leasing platform, enabling anyone to own solar energy-producing cells and build wealth by leasing them to power businesses and organizations in emerging markets. Meanwhile, the organization's handpicked local partners handle the installation and ongoing maintenance requirements.

The entire process involves four steps:

  1. Sun Exchange identifies schools, businesses, and other organizations that want to go solar. The company's engineers work with local solar construction partners to carefully vet each project, ensure both economic and technical viability, and that it meets social and environmental goals.
  2. Sun Exchange then launches a crowdfunding campaign to finance the project. Individuals or organizations around the work can sign up to become a member and buy solar cells. They must sign up, add funds via credit card, Bitcoin, or a bank transfer, and then they can purchase solar cells with the funds in their wallet.
  3. Sun Exchange begins the installation process after the campaign is complete, which typically takes four to six weeks. That said, the actual timeline may vary depending on the project.
  4. The schools, businesses, or other organizations hosting the solar installation pay a lower electricity bill divided among investors each month. These payments are made in either BTC or ZAR.

Sun Exchange's online platform makes it easy to see the status of solar projects, view your earnings, and calculate your clean energy output. Within the wallet, you can also view your balance, invest in new projects, or withdraw your income without transaction fees. The entire process is frictionless, making it ideal for novice and advanced investors.

Should You Invest in Sun Exchange?


Sun Exchange operates on the premise that specific emerging markets – particularly in South Africa – have access to a lot of sunlight but don't have much existing solar infrastructure. By closing the financing gap, the organization hopes to expand solar access in these regions while providing investors worldwide with income potential.

Many Sun Exchange projects offer compelling rates of return of between 10% and 30%, making them attractive to a wide range of investors. At the same time, the long-term nature of power purchase agreements makes the income more reliable than small business loans or other investments with a greater probability of non-payment.

However, there are some downsides to remember:

  • Payments are made in Bitcoin or South African Rand rather than U.S. dollars, introducing exchange rate risks. If BTC or ZAR decreases in value against the dollar, investors could experience losses when converting back into U.S. dollars to spend.
  • The businesses and schools that install solar panels on their buildings could fail to make payments. While it's possible to take ownership of the solar panels, the cost of relocating them to a new project or liquidating them could reduce returns.
  • Investments in solar panels are not very liquid, and Sun Exchange doesn't typically repurchase or resell them after their initial sale. As a result, it may be difficult or impossible to liquidate your holdings.
  • Bitcoin mining requires a significant amount of energy, and receiving payments in Bitcoin could encourage the market to continue burning fossil fuels to mine new Bitcoin. Although, the use of Bitcoin on these projects offsets its high carbon costs.

In the end, Sun Exchange may be a valuable high-yield portion of a diversified portfolio, capable of delivering attractive returns while facilitating the transition to renewable energy.

The Bottom Line


Sun Exchange is the world's first peer-to-peer solar leasing platform leveraging cryptocurrencies to enable anyone to invest. With its attractive yields and low minimums, investors may want to consider the platform as part of a dversified portfolio.

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May 21, 2024

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Asset Class

Crowdfunding

Impact Focus

Renewable Energy

Tags

solar renewables

Highlights

  • Earn attractive returns by investing in solar cells in emerging markets.
  • Easily track your returns and climate impact over time.