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Solar gets behind recycling

Sun Exchange, a Cape Town-based online solar energy marketplace, has announced a crowd-sale for a solar project that will power a Cape Town-based recycled plastics manufacturer.

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Through the crowd-sale, users in South Africa and across the globe can buy into the Nioro Plastics solar project and then earn income from the electricity it generates. 

Sun Exchange has won several awards and broad recognition for its innovative platform and for promoting sustainable business practises by connecting “conscious capital” to commercial solar projects. Nioro Plastics will be the largest Sun Exchange crowd-sale to date, and will focus on minimising negative environmental impacts of the plastics industry. 

The increasing use globally of single-use plastic items such as bottles and packaging is garnering much public attention following recent headlines and studies on the matter. For example, a recent edition of National Geographic revealed how hundreds of millions of tonnes of plastics are entering our oceans each year, threatening wildlife with potential catastrophic impact on the entire food chain. 

“Plastics aren’t inherently bad, it’s what we do, or don’t do, with them that counts,” said Sylvia Earle, National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence.

The good news is that much of the plastic we use is 100% recyclable. Thanks to the ongoing campaigning efforts of organisations such as PETCO, South Africa is one of the top countries for collecting and recycling  PET, a form of plastic predominantly used to make drinking bottles. 

However, electricity is still required to repurpose recycled materials, and while this process is powered by fossil fuels, the industry can hardly claim to be a sustainable “cyclical” solution. 

Enter Sun Exchange, described by its founders as the “AirBnB for solar panels,” which enables users to generate an income stream powered by the sun in just a few clicks. Through the Sun Exchange platform, practically anyone can buy solar cells installed onto the roof of Nioro Plastics, which are leased to give the plastic producer low-cost access to clean energy for a period 20 years. This presents a unique opportunity for individuals to put their money to work and earn income while promoting clean energy and sustainability in one of South Africa’s fastest growing industries.

The project also highlights how manufacturers and companies of all sizes, across industries and geographies, can leverage Sun Exchange’s innovative platform to go solar with no upfront cost and minimise their energy costs and carbon footprint. 

“We encourage the use of recycling and certainly having some of the energy required for the production of these plastic bottles being solar-driven would be a very good and positive thing,” said Simeon Penev, Managing Director, Nioro Plastics. “It’s a good investment for the people leasing solar cells, because they will be making money.”

How Sun Exchange Monetises Sunshine

Sun Exchange has won global recognition for its disruptive approach to solar finance. The company won the Mondato Award for Social Impact in Sub-Saharan Africa and has been named the best Blockchain Business In Africa at the African Fintech Awards for the past two years running. The United Nations Development Program also recently selected Sun Exchange to pilot blockchain-based solar finance in Moldova.

The Sun Exchange approach to “monetising sunshine” can be broken down in four key phases:

  • Solar Project Crowd Sale: Through its buy-to-lease solar marketplace, Sun Exchange sells batches of solar cells for projects that have been vetted for social and environmental responsibility, and for economic viability. During the crowd sale, virtually any individual or organisation, anywhere in the world, can purchase solar cells for only ZAR 60 per cell, and then rent them to be installed in the solar project.
  • Solar Plant Installation: Upon completion of the crowd sale, when all solar cells for a project have been purchased, Sun Exchange works with local engineering, procurement and construction partners to build and install the solar power system.
  • Electricity and Income Generation: Once the installation is complete (typically within two to three weeks), the solar plant starts generating electricity and solar cell owners start earning rental income based on the amount of electricity their solar cells produce. Owners can choose to receive rental payments in local currency or Bitcoin (BTC), and bonuses in the platform’s own SUNEX digital rewards token. 
  • Real Time Tracking: Through the Sun Exchange online dashboard, solar cell owners can track the real-time performance and electricity generation of their cells. While solar cells are typically leased under a 20-year contract, owners can choose to cash out instantly at any time.

“Nioro Plastics and Sun Exchange are setting a global precedent for the use of solar power and sustainable practices in the plastics industry in South Africa and beyond,” said Abraham Cambridge, CEO and founder of Sun Exchange. “Anyone interested in conscious capital should participate in the crowd sale and capture the opportunity to earn money while doing good and promoting clean power, all of which can be done with the click of a button through TheSunExchange.com.”

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