From void into vision, from vision to mind, from mind into speech, from speech to the tribe, from the tribe into din.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Sun Money

Solar is power and currency not only as energy, electricity, heat but also as politics,  economics, and sociology.  Solar energy is, by definition, local production, swadeshi, what Gandhi called the "heart of satyagraha," soul force, non-violent action.

Gandhi would spin for an hour each day, usually producing a hundred yards of thread, and helped develop a simple spinning wheel (charkha) that allowed many to do the same. He believed that spinning was the foundation of non-violence. I believe this type of practical labor has to be the core of any sustainable ecological action.

We need a solar swadeshi, an ecological practice on a daily basis that allows us to live within our solar income. Gandhi used the charkha, the spinning wheel. What would be an ecological charkha, a solar charkha?

Could we do with electricity what Gandhi did with cloth, at least for emergencies and disasters? Can hand-made electricity, 21st century khadi cloth, provide real electrical power to the people and a survival level of energy independence and autonomy?

Here are some examples where solar energy is building economies that are closer to the practices of a Gandhian economics, a non-violent economics, a solar swadeshi, a kind of sun money.

Grameen Shakti [Village Energy] of Bangladesh

GS [Grameen Shakti] is one of the largest and fastest growing rural based renewable energy companies in the world. GS is also promoting Small Solar Home System to reach low income rural households.

SHSs can be used to light up homes, shops, fishing boats etc. It can also be used to charge cellular phones, run televisions, radios and cassette players. SHSs have become increasingly popular among users because they present an attractive alternative to conventional electricity such as no monthly bills, no fuel cost, very little repair, maintenance costs, easy to install any where etc.
GS installed SHSs have made a positive impact on the rural people. GS has introduced micro-utility model in order to reach the poorer people who cannot afford a SHS individually. Another successful GS venture is Polli Phone which allows people is off grid areas the facilities of telecommunication through SHS powered mobile phones.
GS has developed an effective strategy for reaching people in remote and rural areas with solar PV technology. It involves:
Soft credit through installments which makes SHSs affordable
Advocacy and Promotion
Community involvement and social acceptance
Effective after sales service
Blending Technology with Market Forces

More on Grameen Shakti at


ReadyPay is our patent-pending financial platform that allows customers to pay-to-own Fenix solar energy systems over time. Engineered to integrate with any mobile money system, ReadyPay enables customers to make payments from a mobile phone and receive a secure code to unlock access to solar power until another payment is due.

From payment history, we are building a massive dataset to create a next generation credit score for the 2.2 billion unbanked adults in emerging markets (Source: McKinsey).

Launched in Uganda in partnership with Africa’s largest telecom MTN, ReadyPay Solar is available now for as little $0.39 per day.



Solar currency.
SolarCoin is a digital currency incentivizing solar electricity. Spend it, trade it, exchange it.
Solar energy incentive.
SolarCoin represents one MWh of solar energy generated. SolarCoin rewards solar electricity generators both large and small.
A group effort.
Use Solarcoin. Join the solar power economy. SolarCoin holders help produce 97,500 TWh. 99% of SolarCoins to be distributed to solar energy generators over 40 years.

SolarCoin is an alternative digital currency. SolarCoin is backed by two forms of proof of work. One is the traditional cryptographic proof of work associated with digital currency.  Another proof of work is a 3rd party verified meter reading. SolarCoin is equitably distributed using both of these proofs of work as a means to reward solar energy generation.
Solar Coin Helps the Environment
Solar energy, unlike fossil fuels, does not place excess heat or carbon into the atmosphere. The long term intent is to provide an incentive to produce more solar electricity globally over the next 40 years by rewarding the generators of solar electricity.  SolarCoin is intended to shift the levelized cost of energy (LOCE). Source:solarcoin wiki
Technical details relating to SolarCoin are on


Richard Komp has been seeding solar cottage industry around the world for over thirty years.  Here is news of his latest project in Liberia.

A group of Liberians living in the Boston area asked me to go to Liberia to give a three part course on solar energy. I have just finished the first part of the course at the Monrovian Vocational Training Center for the 27 students who will be part of a new solar corporation they are now planning. In the first part of the course, the students made small solar cell phone chargers, then graduated to bigger 15 watt PV modules that can be used to light up small squatter huts and rural grass huts. We ourselves used these modules to recharge a 12 volt deep=cycle battery so we would have continuous power to run our tools, since the Center rarely had electricity.

We spent the second week on solar thermal systems, making a solar box cooker big enough to “cook” the large PV modules we made next. We managed to cook both a 65 watt and a custom 75 watt module for a solar water pump we installed, at the same time in the solar oven (a first for cooking two at once).


Maasai Stoves and Solar ( installs locally made, more efficient cookstoves and chimneys in Maasai homes, reducing the time and material needed for cooking and providing profound health benefits for women and children.

Maasai Stoves & Solar Project addresses profound international health challenges affecting millions.

Read about our work, reducing indoor smoke in the homes of pastoral people in the developing world, caused by the use of indoor cooking fires.
We replace the fires with our stove and chimney that produces ninety percent less smoke, benefitting families and the environment.
Help us achieve these goals
Healthier indoor air quality
Improved health
Women’s empowerment
Locally-built solutions
Environmental conservation
Mitigating climate change

We are well on our way to completing the requirements for carbon credit certification. Part of the process includes baseline surveys and measurement of the wood savings of our stove directly and by efficiency studies, performed by an outside authority.


There is a way you can look at the world that brings energy, money, and information into a single focus where energetic calories, cash and credit, bits and data all melt one into the other and back again.  All these  enterprises are explorations into that world.