The Solarity

in solarcoin •  2 years ago  (edited)

Solar Dyson Sphere

The Solarity: a made-up word for the point at which the price of 1 SolarCoin (SLR) equals the bid price for 1MWh of solar PV generation. (Thank you to James Pryor on the SolarCoin Slack for helping coin... ahem... the term.)

At the time of writing 1 SLR can be exchanged for around $2.00 in old-fashioned money. Meanwhile, in some regions of the world, the bid price for new solar PV projects are coming in at around $20 per MWh. Registration of a solar PV plant located anywhere on Earth with the SolarCoin Foundation could also receive 1SLR for every MWh of electricity generated. Yes, this really is true - see

At present then, such an installation constructed in Mexico or Chile, say, would be able to recover approximately 10% of their costs just through claiming SolarCoin... for free.

In other words these projects are already roughly 10% of the way towards The Solarity.


As the bid price of solar generation seems to display every sign of getting yet cheaper, what happens when 1SLR matches the bid price? At this point the cost charged by producers for each MWh of electricity (which presumably at least covers the cost of building and running a solar PV plant summed over its lifetime) will be exactly matched by the awarded SLR. Unless I'm missing something (please tell me in the comments below!), when and where (sunnier regions will get there soonest) The Solarity occurs, the cost of solar PV generation essentially becomes zero for humanity.

But wait. What if the price of SolarCoins should ever exceed the bid price for PV? In such circumstances anyone building a solar farm may find they actually earn more money than it takes to build their installation... build it and the SLR will come!

What does this mean for the price of a SolarCoin? Does it mean that the maximum price of SLR can never be higher than the lowest bid price per MWh for solar generation? Are they even linked?

What would it mean for other forms of electricity generation? How can they complete with "more than free"?

Will all hell break loose in the rush to install solar panels just to earn SolarCoin?

Does capitalism even still function, at least in energy markets, when there's no cost (or energy scarcity) at all when going solar?

Answers on a sunbeam.

This is the genius of the SolarCoin project (thank you Nick and Joseph!) - it's not just yet another digital currency, it really is a forcing function for good saving the world one MWh at a time.

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We now need a new coin to help people to invest in solar energy ;)

Something like

Great concept, we will see soon what happens!

Thanks @scalextrix - interesting times indeed!

Yes indeed (and thanks for the credit; let's split the honours!)

This is a significant idea. When I was debating whether or not to invest in my pv system, it really came down to dollars and cents. The only way it made sense was because of the 30% tax credit that is now scheduled to be fazed out. This SolarCoin thing could make a huge difference for sustainable energy as well as the mom and pop installers.

Excellent point, thank you. It seems (I hope!) that SLR may increasingly be seen as a replacement incentive for solar as government support in terms of FIT payments are further withdrawn (as they are in the UK).

This is and will be a game changer in the renewables energy sector, great idea with lots of potential, we have an abundance of the suns energy so there is no reason we cant reach it with SolarCoin.

From a developer point of view, first thing would be to assess the risks around the SLR revenue. A few questions, therefore: who are the SolarCoin Foundation (since they issue the coins)? What is their responsibility to do as they say they are going to do - i.e. issue the coins? Do they have a legal requirement to do this? How would it be enforced? I don't know much about the requirements or legal foundation of a, er, Foundation - can anyone help?

Good points, thanks. Yes, I'm sure organisations committing large sums to solar would like as many reassurances as possible. I note the draft Community policy document says "SolarCoin was created in 2014 as an open community project run by volunteers and the founders of the SolarCoin Foundation, a Delaware (U.S.A) registered Public Benefit Corporation."

First off, I want to say that I AM a fan of SolarCoin, so this is not meant to sound too negative, but it is meant to challenge the idea of the "solarity".

I want to ask:

Where does the real value of crypto currencies come from?

Most fans of crypto seems to be missing the fundamental point that any increase in value (of any cyrpto currency) is not really "money for free". It is money we are borrowing (yet again) off the planet and future generations.

OK, so this "money" is not created as interest bearing debt (like most "normal" money) by banks. It is created by human perceptions instead. The global mindset imbues these newly created digital assets with virtual value via our subconscious belief in scarcity and our grotesque affinity for greed.

But when we "cash in" those perceptions by converting our digital coins to GBP or USD and spend them on (often finite) resources like land, or building materials, or solar PV - all of which have an environmental impact - we are using up those resources, quicker than we would have been able to do without crypto currencies.

You could argue that Solarcoins are incentivising the installation of PV, and that is a good thing but, when their value increases, they are still extorting real tangible, natural, value (things like birds and forests and trees) into a mythical pool of financial value - and ultimately that will only ever speed up the destruction of the natural environment.

So let's not get too hasty about imagining a scenario where PV is "more than free". All our actions in the real world have environmental impacts and just because crypto currencies have found a new way to externalise those costs it does not mean we should be slapping ourselves on the back about it just yet! It is our children and grandchildren that we are forcing to pay for this new, naked emperor.