2021: How you let the sunshine in

Published: 13 Dec 2021

Just like that, 2021 is drawing to a close. This has been a year full of challenges for many people and industries across the globe, but thanks to our community, we are proud to say Sun Exchange is finishing strong.

The first Nhimbe Fresh solar project has been a huge milestone for Sun Exchange in 2021. It is our largest project to date, the first outside of South Africa, and the first to feature battery storage. In March, the $1.4 million crowdsale broke the record for the largest crowdsourced project in Africa. This was no small feat, but 1,905 Sun Exchange members across 98 countries banded together, bought solar cells, and made it happen!

There were hurdles along the way such as the temporary ban on battery exports by the Chinese government but with perseverance and patience from our community, we are now at the end of the line with the installation of the project. Any day now, it will start generating clean, affordable, reliable energy for Nhimbe Fresh while solar cell owners earn a solar-powered income for 20 years.

Not only was Nhimbe Fresh the first project of its kind, you enabled more high-impact solar projects than ever before. Watergate Apartments is our first solar power project for the first affordable housing development in Mitchell’s Plain, Cape Town. We also unlocked solar power for two schools for learners with special needs, Pioneer School for the Visually Impaired and Carpe Diem School. These schools can now redirect funds from their energy savings to helping families cover school costs. We took our goal for a sustainable future a step further with Outerwest as our first recycling plant solar project! And our school solar projects, always a community favourite, just kept on coming – bringing our 2021 total school projects to 7.

Total, as a community, we completed crowdsales for 15 new solar projects this year.

Sun Exchange 2021 at a glance:

  • A total of 15 completed crowdsales and new solar projects this year
  • 49 projects to date
  • Our projects generated just under 9 GWh of clean energy
  • 9,270 metric tonnes of CO2 reduced - that’s equivalent to eliminating 4,512 metric tonnes of burning coal

That means, this year, we more than doubled how much clean energy we’ve generated and carbon we’ve reduced in Sun Exchange’s lifetime.

These projects and accomplishments set a precedent for the united power of community, innovation and individual action to drive climate action and sustainable development. With the increasingly urgent climate emergency, this is now more important than ever. Especially on the heels of the COP26 climate conference, with concerns that the half-baked commitments made by government delegates fall short of meeting the targets needed to avoid a climate catastrophe. Tools and technology that enable us to take action into our own hands are essential!

An exciting 2021 milestone was the leading investor of our Series A funding round, ARCH Emerging Markets Partners, doubling-down on their support and belief in Sun Exchange with an additional $2.5million in funding.

ARCH Managing Director, William Barry, commented: “Sun Exchange continues to demonstrate momentum as a fast-emerging leader eliminating obstacles to solar proliferation in Africa...we are proud to continue partnering with Sun Exchange on its journey to accelerate the global energy transition.”

The press took note of our momentum in 2021. Thomson Reuters Foundation profiled the Watergate Apartments project and how solar panels can boost cheap, green homes in South Africa. Leading South African online newspaper, The Daily Maverick, shone the spotlight on us following the close of the Nhimbe Fresh project. We enjoyed partnering with Max and Stacey on the Orange Pill podcast earlier this year. And speaking of podcasts, Abe had the pleasure of sitting down with prominent crypto podcast host and influencer, Anita Posch, to discuss the role of digital currencies in transitioning the world towards solar power.

We introduced new features and enhancements on our platform to simplify and enhance your Sun Exchange experience. These include a new and improved dashboard that makes it easy to convert currencies, calculate how much energy your cells will generate, how much carbon will be reduced and how much you will earn. You also have an option of downloading your financial statements so you can keep better track of your earnings.

Our annual member survey left us heartened by your feedback. A huge thank you to those who took the time to respond to the survey. As our global community, you are at the core of our solution and your input allows us to continuously improve your Sun Exchange experience as we grow.

While the world continues to learn to adapt to the new normal, your commitment to creating a brighter future and earning with purpose enables us to continue marching towards our mission to connect the world to the sun. No matter the project – big, small, school, retirement village, farm or supermarket, every single one of your solar cells contributes in the fight against climate change. Your eagerness and support throughout 2021 has undoubtedly been our highlight of the year.

From the Sun Exchange team to you, rest, recharge and enjoy your end of year break.

See you in 2022, we’ve got lots to tackle!