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Solar DAO Has Enough Power To Redesign The Grid With New Partner

31.08.2018 — 0

Solar DAO, the world’s first digital, autonomous, closed-end, utility-scale PV project investment fund, has declared the partnership with the Powerchain project – a decentralized platform for energy storage that allows everyone to store electricity, transfer it within the network, or trade it. The companies intend to popularize using alternative energy sources and change the conventional and inefficient energy management system by using innovative technologies together.


The main advantage of the companies’ cooperation will become the adoption of energy storage systems to stabilize power consumption during peak loads. It also allows to regulate alternative sources generation, that is a great avail for the Solar DAO members. Now the bad weather will not affect consumers. The Solar DAO team sees the great potential in energy storage systems and the crucial importance of their development. These systems must greatly change the electricity market in the next 4-8 years.

Powerchain offers for installation an innovative kinetic energy storage, developed by its partner company, Kinetic. The accumulator allows to balance up to 90% of the capacity of platforms participants. The system is also able to:

  1. Remember the indicators of actually produced energy,
  2. Compare them with calculated data in kW/h,
  3. Draw a conclusion about the level of energy storage and its optimal distribution between storage devices and consumers to minimize transport losses and costs for generation.

Solar DAO plans to closely integrate with the platform. Perhaps its projects will work on the Powerchain platform or the company will make its own platform, that will interact with the Powerchain.

According to GOTOSOLAR, a Solar DAO project operator and owner, the strong partnership among the Solar DAO and the Powerchain should increase demand for SDAO tokens and give them significant functionality. It will probably be possible to distribute part of the Powerchain tokens (POWECs) to the SDAO tokenholders.


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#WhenICO, #WhenOnExchanges and many more…

08.12.2017 — 0

1. White Paper 2.0

Solar DAO will continue to work on the original model — as a closed-end tokenized fund. Project participants believed in this idea and we plan to keep this original concept. We will remake the Marketplace into a Dashboard (Sirius interface) with detailed reports on implementation and operation of PV projects added with a voting system. The updated White Paper will be released within next 2–3 weeks.

2. When ICO?

The Initial Token Offering (Token Sale) will begin on February 28th and will not be limited in time. We will conduct a point marketing (micro-marketing) campaign and not going to spend funds on traffic, to not risk with participants’ funds and to not get any additional risks for the project.

We are sending message instead 🙂

We****don’t want to blow and burn your funds for active marketing (buying traffic) during a period of fierce competition among thousands of other ICOs in pursuit of speculators’ attention. It will enrich only advertising platforms and marketing agencies. Moreover, there is a high risk not to raise additional funds and increase liability. 90% of projects conducting ICO these days face with this issue.

Instead, we suggest to follow the original plan and allocate funds for the construction of PV solar plants.

  • The initial price of SDAO token: $ 1.00 (1 USD). No bonuses.
  • After the first plants commissioned, we estimate the value of assets and will connect the number of tokens sold to assets under the control of Solar DAO.
  • By now, the total number of issued tokens: 1’172’767 SDAO
  • Tokens of Project Team (25% of the total, as originally planned) are located on wallet: 0x8009b7F7E94BAf862d155bb7A3C0E589ea6a1a75.
  • 20% of team tokens (or 5% of the total) will be distributed among the most active project advisers in gratitude for their help and faith.

3. When on Exchanges?

SDAO tokens will be available in open market in next two month. We begin to list SDAO tokens on decentralized crypto-exchanges between****January 14th and February 25th. Goal: at least 4 exchanges within 6 weeks.

Why decentralized?

  • More promising when considering a period of 1 year and more
  • Gaining popularity rapidly
  • Do not require million budgets for listing
  • Minimal risks of locking funds by the exchange
  • Can not be regulated, since they are actually systems of smart contracts and do not have a localized control center

After we get an approval from the first exchange, tokens will be unfrozen and transferable!

Project Teams’ tokens will not be on exchanges at least for 2 first years.

4. New Horizons, Fresh Opportunities

After the first tokenholders voting, since December 18th, we plan to attract institutional investors and crypto funds.

The funds will be distributed as planned:

Fiat will allow us to use funds faster and safer for the construction of PVS (PV solar plants). Owners of SDAO tokens will be able to join this Fund within 4 months after it’s been incorporated, getting its shares in accordance with the number of tokens owned. Exchange terms will be published later.

All participants of the fund will be also holders of shares and the equal number of tokens, taking into account their value at the time of entry. As the rules of regulation are created and normative acts come into effect, and as tokens are defined and classified, we will as it initially planned transfer the basic functionality from shares to tokens, legally transforming the classical fund into a tokenized fund, saving its security and reliability .

Since the main fund incorporation requires significant costs, we will implement it as soon as commitments exceeds $1M. For a modest estimate, it will happen in February 2018. Fund’s shareholders will be able to receive dividends. However, we will continue to look for any appropriate ways to distribute dividends among tokenholders.

In March 2018, we are going to begin construction of PVS:

  • 1 MW in Kazakhstan. Budget: $40k.
  • 2 MW in Ukraine (0.5 + 1.5 MW). Budget: $80k
  • 250 kW in Israel. Budget: $40k.

Amounts are indicated on the practice solar plants construction are financed with 10–20% of equity and 80% debt financing, where PV plant’s shares are recognized as a collateral.

We can not predict any local authorities response time, but we will do the best to make the process as quickly as it possible. We have experienced and responsible local partners to do that.

At the same time we are also working on the selection of new projects at various stages across the globe.

Since now, we will not publish information about the projects under consideration before at least the construction started, because we need to fulfill the non-disclosure agreements signed (NDA). That is the way how project business always works.

5. Voting

We did a great work starting from the scratch in November 2016. With no external financing at all we got a great feedback from the crypto community and attracted the seed investments required for running the Pre-ICO.

In the summer 2017, we conducted Pre-ICO and among the other projects having Pre-ICO during that period, we got the highest approval from the community. After finishing Pre-ICO in September, we started developing a legal structure, without which further development is impossible.

Over the past 3 months we:

  1. Developed a completely new concept Solar DAO as a platform. We evaluated it using the Howey test, tested the idea for viability, and also found legal structuring options.
  2. Developed Solar DAO Marketplace. Was launched and tested by the Community. The platform survived several hacks and was upgraded twice.
  3. Considered several legal structures:
  • SAFT (Simple Agreement for Future Tokens)
  • STAK (Stichting Administratiekantoor)
  • Non-profit fund
  • Swiss Foundation
  • SPV companies: Gibraltar, Isle of Man, BVI, Singapore, Hong Kong, Cyprus, etc
  • Offshore Fund
  1. Increased the Project team:
  • +4 person in the team
  • +3 advisers
  1. Community doubled.

  2. Proceed 2 marketing tests, which approved the decision not to blow out money on marketing.

  3. Agreed to cooperate with 5 co-investors. It means that in some projects we can share risks with them.

From the very beginning, we positioned Solar DAO as a tokenized fund working with real objects — renewable energy generators. The process of implementing such projects presupposes their selection, optimization, structuring and construction. The major part of our users understand this and support our desire to create a completely new investment tool that should change this industry forever.

As you probably know, since the beginning of our Pre-ICO and even more since the first version of White Paper published, the legislation of most countries and regulations of cryptocurrencies, circulation of tokens and conduction of ICOs have been changed dramatically. This is what many projects, including us faced. We decided to continue running the Solar DAO under correct legal structure.

We never ever promised a fast return and high profits for the funds that you contributed to the project. We strive to do our work well, be open, and make every effort to make your participation in the project profitable and comfortable, and the project itself — legal and reliable. And this is the main reason why these days we mostly paid attention to projects legal structure.

Unfortunately, some Community Members often complain about the facts:

  1. The core ICO did not start as planned in the original concept, due to the urgent need to create a legal structure in correct way.
  2. We did not buy a solar plant in operation to test dividends payment. The cost of a PVS in operation with under 30 kW is comparable to the cost of building a PVS 1 MW (1000 kW), and their average return (ROI) is about 7% per year.
  3. No test distribution of dividends was made a month after the end of the Pre-ICO. According to preliminary estimates it would have been about 0.225% of the participation amount. This is due to our decision not to buy ready PVS.
  4. The holding structure was not registered according to the original version of White Paper, which was relevant at the time of the start of the Pre-ICO, but can’t currently be used for the Project’s purposes.

We strive for maximum comfort Solar DAO participants, while maintaining its stability, security and maximum reliability.

Feedback needed

Dear Community, we need your feedback. Therefore, from 08:00 GMT December 10 to 08:00 GMT December 16 (7 days), we will provide voting among the tokenholders.

**Voting subject: **What do you think about Solar DAO project and its development?

1 — I like the chosen strategy and solutions — go ahead!
2 — It’s okay, I trust the team.
3 — OK, but I expected more.
4 — This is absolutely not what I expected. I don’t like it.

Voting will take place on the Ethereum blockchain among the tokenholders. 
1 token = 1 voice.

Your vote could not be changed, so you can only select it once. Smart contract will only work for the specified period. Here you canget voting instruction.

Tokens owned by our Team will not vote.

To ensure the safety of your private keys, we decided not to make a web interface for voting. The conventional wallets could be used for it: MEW, Mist and Parity.

6. Legal Structure

For the past three months, we have been working on developing a legal structure in order to reduce the risks of possible claims against Solar DAO from regulators, while retaining the original idea and the declared functionality. We have made a preliminary decision that requires an additional confirmation from the jurisdictions selected:

Now we are engaged in obtaining legal opinion, confirming the legal structure with selected (and alternative) jurisdictions and check the tax consequences for the team. The completion will take about 2–3 weeks.

Explanation of the legal structure

  1. FUND. The classical fund incorporated in Cayman Islands attracts funds from accredited investors in fiat
  • LP — Limited Partners — investors.
  • GP — General Partner — Project Team that is engaged in core business.
  • LM — Licensed Manager — licensed manager providing protection of the means and interests of investors.
  1. Fund will be incorporated when we have least $ 1M amount of commitments.

  2. Fund participants (LP) receive shares of this fund, for which we can legally pay dividends. In addition, they receive tokens according to their current price at the moment of entry into the fund. The main idea is to logically connect shares to tokens. When the legislative base and regulation of cryptocurrencies and tokens are improving, the functional is transferring from the units to the tokens.

  3. A separate company, token agent, can sell tokens using the KYC (Know Your Customer) procedure. Thus obtained cryptocurrency we will be able to exchange for fiat and use it for projects.

  4. Tokenholders will be eligible to receive shares of the main fund by joining it as LP (Limited Partner). So we plan to implement the original idea that all token owners should have full rights of Fund participants.

  5. Onshore jurisdiction will be used to reduce the tax burden for possession of solar power.

7. Updated Roadmap

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ICO. What’s new?

16.11.2017 — 0

Recently only a few could predict the rapid growth and development of ICOs. For reference, for the first half of 2017 in the world was attracted more than 1.3 billion dollars during the ICO. The popularity of this method of fundraising continues to gain momentum, and therefore there are difficulties that need to be overcome by future successful projects.

Strict control and prohibition of ICO

The governments of all countries basically divided into two categories:

  • Those who prohibit ICO (China) or strictly regulate it, equating tokens to securities (USA, Canada, Singapore)
  • Those who allow and facilitate ICO in order to increase the attractiveness of their country for business:

One of them — the Isle of Man, where the Ministry of Finance sees financial prospects and is already developing its legal regulation.

By the end of the year Gibraltar Blockchain Exchange plans to launch a service that allows licensed listing and digital tokens trading.

In Estonia it is proposed to hold the first state ICO in the world.

Another example is the Swiss “Cryptovalley” Zug. The government supports the established industry group for the management of blockchain assets.

Tendencies and rules in the world of cryptocurrency and blockchain change constantly. We monitor the situation and continue to work on creating a legally correct structure for conducting a legal ICO. This is important, because those who conducted the ICO without regard to legal aspects, today faces the impossibility of withdrawing funds to Fiat. We do not want our investors to face such problems and continue to look for a solution.

Stay tuned! 
Join our group chat in Telegram:

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How to choose? Signs of Scam projects in ICO (By Alexey Krol)

06.11.2017 — 0

A huge holivar has recently appeared on the subject of ability to identify the signs of a scam of projects in the ICO. Popular theme by the way. Now wherever you spit — anyone starts to pear over the analysis of projects that he thinks is a scam.

  1. Any innovation = uncertainty = inability not only to give, but especially to fulfill their promises. Accordingly, if in a serious innovative project you see promises of exact metrics — this is SCAM.

  2. Uncertainty follows from the nature of innovation, when you solve a problem that no one has solved before you.

  3. This is a typical scientific methodology — put a hypothesis, check, break off, again and so on in a circle.

  4. How long? As long as the investor has faith.

  5. Why do some invest in such a risk? Because if it happens, then profit from the exponential becomes an asymptotic vertical.

  6. Who can afford it? Those who are capable to burn 4–5% of their capital on 100% R&D projects. And this is not a scum, it’s a sober calculation for the future, which is inaccessible to ones who are used to do simple things. Or those who shift risks to LP.

Thus, a really serious project for the ICO is about the intention to solve a problem that meets 3 criteria:

  1. The task is absolutely socially significant, which means that it will not just give money, but possibly give market shift.

  2. The problem solved by the project is obvious, i.e. if more than 10 lines are needed to explain it, it’s bullshit.

  3. There is simply no existing solution in the framework of known technological approaches.

The very difference between the ICO paradigm is that a person decides to give money for several motivations:

  1. He wants this problem to be solved, he is interested. He wants to be involved in the process.

  2. He hopes to benefit from investment or support.

And now the ratio of these factors of altruism and greed gives the whole spectrum of investors ICO.

2–3% — those who can ratio 50 altruism / 50 greed — this is the psychology of traditional business angels Valley of the beginning of the century (now almost extinct …)

The rest — who has the ratio of 0 altruism / 100 greed in the form of a desire to catch a wave.

Conclusion: What will change.

  1. As the stage of hype is going on, the share of investors of the second type prevails, but, IMHO, the share of investors of an altruistic type will grow with time, because at the moment this is the only mechanism giving access to financing for a huge number of enthusiasts. This is precisely the mechanism for financing the development of ideas.

  2. Average investments will be significantly reduced, because such amounts simply are not necessary. Before ICO startups raised 50–100K and this was enough, sometimes to show a suitable prototype. And then suddenly such a startup gets 20 millions! And immediately the question of how to make a good product becomes into the question — how to justify / master this money. But the meaning of the startup has not changed. This means you invested 10 dollars or 10 millions — the risk is still 100%.

  3. This means that there will inevitably arise rounds, for this is common sense. I collected 1000 dollars, took a step, reported, proved that I was not a scammer, collected 5000, and so on.

Therefore, all the estimates of the SCAM project or not the scam — are not adequate. 
Listen, wise people, who are trying to show us SCAM projects here — what would you say about Tezos and, incidentally, Bancor, who started to experience certain problems. In fact, nothing can be said. As stated by Draper — we will wait 2 years. Do not want to wait? Impatient? Sorry, nobody cares. So you do not understand the nature of creating a new. What does it mean if these projects win? What does it mean if the projects fail? NOTHING.


By Alexey Krol

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New date of the ICO

27.10.2017 — 0

As you know, Solar DAO team is doing the best for a successful ICO. Thats why we need to change the date of starting core Crowdsale. Here’s why…

The world of cryptocurrencies and blockchains undergoes constant changes. ICO itself falls under many regulations and restrictions. Before the ICO we need to develop and create reliable and safe legal structure.

The Solar DAO could work only with appropriate legal structure. And we cannot move further without it. Current companies cannot meet current requirements.

So. To conduct a good ICO it is necessary to create a legal structure. This is a very serious and complex task. Nowadays only a few countries have decided on their position towards the cryptocurrencies, tokens and ICOs. Also positions of governments changes very often. Solar DAO is working hard to find the best way for its structure. It will helps both our participants and projects growth.

Why it is also important?

We all want Solar DAO tokens to be available on free market (exchanges). So we need a structure 🙂

We appreciate your feedback and mind all of your suggestions to make Solar DAO project long-term and trustworthy!

So that’s why:

The ICO launch date will take place between December 4th, 2017 and January 1st, 2018

Right now our attention is focused on:

  • development of the legal structure;
  • finalization of the Marketplace and involvement of additional product engineers and advisors;
  • staff expansion;
  • ad campaign testing and smart contract audit.

We look forward to your support and are always ready to answer your questions!

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Solar DAO Marketplace released

15.10.2017 — 0

We are glad to introduce:*****Solar DAO Marketplace! 
***Solar DAO Marketplace is a new step of Project development. It’s like “one single interface” we planned and called it Sirius but, not it becomes much bigger and going to change the way to fund renewable energy market.

Now it’s in public beta test

Solar DAO is a blockchain platform that helps everyone to participate in PV solar plants construction around the world. It designed to reduce risks, costs and surpass technical barriers. Solar DAO helps to get, own and trade solar assets freely and safely.

Solar DAO Marketplace will allow to easily manage tokens inside the platform and monitor the progress of the projects in real time.

Attention! Currently Marketplace work with “virtual” SDAO tokens. It means everyone will have some SDAO to test the platform. But… you do not have to send your SDAO tokens to use them and you cannot withdraw anything 🙂

In this version:

  • Fund PV projects with SDAO tokens
  • Find out everything about projects
  • See how the funding works inside Solar DAO Marketplace
  • Use test tokens in this beta

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Solar DAO is Making Progress

28.09.2017 — 0

Time to look at how the project is doing.

Since the end of the Pre-ICO the team has achieved the following milestones:

1. We have started developing the interface for project management.

Besides the main functionality, it will allow us to change the character of electric current at the utilities, and raise financing for the use of a product that is already there and running, instead of raising funds for a work-in-progress. This will make life a lot easier by significantly reducing the risk of regulatory complaints and interventions.

Last but not least, the interface is one of the core products of Solar DAO, the skeleton of the whole project.

2. We keep gathering the pool of our marketing partners to conduct the core ICO.

Our marketing programme for the ICO will be very different from what is now mainstream in the blockchain scene. We believe it will allow for a much greater marketing efficiency. So be prepared for pleasant surprises 🙂

3. We have started negotiations with financial partners and foundations to raise more funds.

For example, now we are in touch with Humaniq, a blockchain-based banking service. We will keep you posted about how things are going on the financial front.

4. We are working hard to enroll advisers and partners in Solar DAO.

This will help us increase the project’s visibility, legitimacy, and manage risk more effectively. We will keep you updated on our successes and on what is ahead.

Stay tuned with Solar DAO.

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Solar DAO Pre-ICO Summary

11.09.2017 — 0

We are happy to update you that the project keeps going in accordance with the roadmap. We’ve been working hard, and it is time to show you what we’ve done!

So. Let’s have a look. What we have already achieved.

Most Important

Since the start of the Pre-ICO, we have gathered more than $443’340, far exceeding the minimum capital target. Thanks to your support, we can move forward as planned, buy the first PV solar plants and begin testing.

Since July 27th, in less than 6 weeks **we have distributed more than 861’000 **SDAO tokens to our investors. More than 700 investors contributed to the Pre-ICO and got early bird bonuses.

We have launched the process of the company establishment. As you read this, our lawyers are **registering the three legal entities in Russia, Israel, and Cyprus. **This will help us enhance the legal security and enable the distribution of profits.

**We’ve been published in the most important journal of solar energy industry: PV Solar Magazine! **Solar DAO acquires professional recognition and it feels very rewarding. The article is available here.

Team and Community Growth

As Solar DAO develops, our team grows. We’ve hired solidity and front-end developers, support engineers, solar project managers, lawyers and marketers to help us build and promote the project further. Now we are 14 professionals working towards a greener and more profitable energy. That’s the Magnificent Seven, doubled! 🙂

Our community is also growing rapidly. **The followers base of Solar DAO has increased 18 times **since the start of the Pre-ICO! We have been actively involved with our community, having answered to more than 1440 messages by email, messengers and the web-chat.

We are also doing our best to familiarize you with solar energy and energy tech more generally. We’ve published 24 blog posts, covering various relevant issues: from how to a PV solar plant works to the overview of the solar energy blockchain projects (hint: we don’t compete directly). Follow us on and let’s be in touch!

What Else Happened

We are enjoying an extensive and positive coverage in the media. Solar DAO has featured in 148 articles, including such major resources as The Cointelegraph, Coinfox, Criptonoticias, and more.

We’ve revealed the Chinese version of our web-site. Since Solar DAO is not a Chinese company, the recent bans on ICO investments do not prevent our supporters from China to participate in the project. Welcome!

In August there has been an attempt to crack our smart contract. Thanks to our security engineers, we’ve successfully handled the attack and made two smart contract migrations,without losing any Ether or Token! The last contract migration is available here.

Your funds are safe with Solar DAO.

We have negotiated a cooperation agreement with an industrial drones manufacturing company. The drones will allow to monitor the PV solar plants remotely from anywhere in the world, 24/7. This is also a way to significantly cut operating expenses.

What is Ahead

Our next step will be to begin the actual construction of PV solar plants. Currently we are working hard studying the markets of Israel, Portugal, and Kazakhstan.

We are planning to enter a partnership with HUAWEI inverter manufacturing and implement the remote monitoring system for Solar DAO members. Besides, very soon we are going to be listed on the Orderbook exchange.

Moreover, in the next few months we will hire new team members, and create the holding company structure to develop the project further, and establish an (offline) office.

It’s been a great month of hard work. We hope you now feel as rewarding as we do. But things are going to be even more interesting, so: Stay tuned!

If you enjoyed this story, please click the 👏 button and share to help others find it! Feel free to leave a comment below.

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Why Solar DAO Uses Blockchain?

10.09.2017 — 0

Because it’s totally awesome. Here’s why…

Solar DAO is based on Ethereum blockchain and utilizes cutting edge smart contract technology to provide its users maximum security.

As we have already observed, most energy tech projects use blockchain to manage the demand side. They try to create new cryptocurrencies that will allow users to trade solar energy on specialized decentralized platforms, and to flexibly balance energy supply and demand. They also aim to incentivize customers financially, allowing them to store and exchange energy units, and receive rewards for renewable energy generation.

Blockchain gives such projects many advantages and sharpens their focus on the demand side. In short, their ultimate goal is to effect the transition to a “greener” energy by changing the way people produce and consume it, and simultaneously to mitigate the most important risks involved in such a transition.

On the contrary, Solar DAO uses blockchain as a means for crowdfunding. It is oriented at the supply-side of the energy financing equation. The use of Ethereum blockchain, and the issuance of ERC20 compatible SDAO tokens makes Solar DAO different from both other energy tech projects that utilize blockchain, as well as from non-blockchain based investment partnerships in the field of solar energy.

Picture credit:

Negatively speaking, the use of blockchain destroys the triple hierarchy that prevents most people from investing into the booming field of solar energy. By undermining the financial hierarchy, the hierarchy of expertise that assumes most of the transaction costs, and the hierarchy of attention from the policy makers, blockchain makes the investment projects in the field of solar energy at the same time financially viable, technically feasible, and trustworthy from the point of view of the public. It also radically diminishes transaction costs by eliminating agency issues and the costs of due diligence and contract enforcement.

First, blockchain allows for the use of smart contracts that are (partly) self-executing and self-enforcing. This creates enhanced security for the members of the Solar DAO, and enables trust within the membership.

Second, Ethereum blockchain allows to democratize access to solar energy investments. The investors of Solar DAO can contribute sums as modest as $1, and still acquire a membership in the investment fund, and the status of an investor into the construction of PV solar plants. Moreover, even with one token in your hand, you can still receive a portion of the dividends. There are no more financial thresholds that could prevent you from participating.

Third, tokenization of investing into solar energy creates a unique opportunity for the investors to anonymously and securely own and trade tokens that are tied to the real assets in the real economy. That means that SDAO combines the flexibility and tradability of a cryptocurrency with stability and value increases of a real asset. And not just any real asset, but one with a bright and promising future — PV solar plants.

Fourth, the decentralized structure of the investment fund enabled by blockchain in itself also solves many issues of corporate governance. By purchasing SDAO tokens, the investors acquire membership and voting rights within the decentralized autonomous organization. That means that the investors have direct control over the key decisions of the fund’s future. On the other hand, the benefits of specialized expertise are not compromised, since the project’s team is in charge of the technical due diligence, while remaining completely accountable to the investors.

In other words,

blockchain in Solar DAO means = Trust, Security, Transparency, and Increasing (Real) Value.

That’s it, as simple as that. Invest in Solar DAO in the Core ICO this October. Read more on the difference of Solar DAO and the value of SDAO tokens.

If you enjoyed this story, please click the 👏 button and share to help others find it! Feel free to leave a comment below.

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Why Solar? The Advantages of PV Solar Energy Compared to the Other Renewables

07.09.2017 — 0

This article explains the advantages of solar energy compared to other renewable energy sources.

The current trend of increasing attention to renewable energy among policy makers, business community, and the public, tends to portray it as a unified field that beats traditional energy sources on all fronts. The recent roadmap, published by a team of researchers from Stanford University, also envisions a transition to “100% of wind, water, and solar”, as if they were indistinguishable. While it is true that the ultimate aim of the short- and mid-term policies targeted at renewable energy support is to diversify energy portfolios, rather than to create a mono-energy source system, there are significant differences between the main sources of renewable energy.

We have already written about the distinctive features of renewable energy before. First of all, the correct way is to call it not just renewable, but variable renewable energy, or VRE. The reason is simple. It is more important to distinguish renewable energy from the point of view of energy supply system, rather than simply based on the generation source. The most important difference of renewable energy is that it is inherently unstable, as opposed to traditional, “baseline” energy generation.

Suppose you own a coal power plant. Once you’ve set it up, having spent a considerable amount of capital to meet the upfront costs of building the facility, you can operate it steadily and without major interruptions. Having reached the full capacity in terms of output, you will see the breakeven point fastly approaching, and the average costs gradually falling down to a minimum. In other words, provided there is a stable demand for electricity, a coal power plant (or, for that matter, a nuclear one) can generate relatively cheap electricity in a stable long-term way. This allows for a greater stability in electrical supply and ensures the minimal necessary demand is always balanced. The cost of this, of course, are heavy pollutions and environmental unsustainability, as can be clearly seen from the picture below (a bit old, but still relevant).

On the contrary, when it comes to renewables, there is a very limited possibility to predict and control the output of solar, wind, and water energy generating objects, as opposed to traditional generation. Since the supply of renewable energy depends on the weather and climatic conditions, it requires a far more flexible system of demand and supply management. Many policy initiatives in the field of renewable energy support, and many energy tech applications are designed precisely to enable such flexible coordination.

However, here the differences between various sources of renewable energy come into play. Water, wind, and solar energy generation differ in terms of their predictability, their efficiency, and their costs. Here’s how.

Cycles and Scales

The first point to be considered before turning to actual comparisons of different renewables is the fact that all energy sources have their natural reproduction cycles. Even fossil fuels are not an exception, although their cycles of reproduction exceed the lifecycle of a human being (not to say the renewables’ lifecycles) by several orders of magnitude.

The following table, adopted from a research report by Clean Line Energy, summarizes the differences in the timescales of the natural cycles of renewable energy sources.

As can be seen from the table, all renewables are different in terms of the temporal scales of their lifecycles. The first conclusion that can be drawn from it is that it is possible to achieve a sufficiently diversified energy portfolio, based on the renewable sources alone. Renewable energy sources that are more prone to temporal fluctuations in the short-term can be supported by more stable generating objects that still use renewable energy.

The second important issue the table shows relates to the requirements of flexible balancing of electricity supply and demand. Such variable sources as solar and wind energy require very flexible patterns of supply and demand management, but can also provide for a greater flexibility if they are included in the energy portfolio of a community or a country.

Finally, roughly speaking, the table can be read as a snapshot of some broader correlations: the shorter the scales of temporal variability of an energy source, the more flexible it is, and the less upfront investments are required to install such a facility. While biomass is an exception to this rule, all other energy sources can be ranked in such a manner (in fact, it does not fit to the picture also because it is not clean).

Thus, geothermal and hydropower plants require heavy capital expenditures; wave- and tidal power facilities occupy the middle, and solar and wind energies are the cheapest ones in terms of the upfront costs. The problem with waves and tides is that, while being generally in the “golden middle” in terms of costs/output stability ratio, they are very site-dependent.

Tidal Power

Tidal power is the only source of renewable energy that is independent from the Sun, while the others are indirectly related to it one way or another, including ven fossil fuels and biofuel. On the contrary, tidal power is embedded into the nature of the Earth-Moon system interactions.

Essentially, tides occur because of the movements of the Sun and the Moon, as well as because of the Earth rotation effects, and the effects of landscape. The gravitational forces exerted by the celestial bodies create motions or currents in the oceans of the Earth. The sea level changes as masses of water move horizontally due to the gravitational effects. As the sea level increases, water from the middle areas of the oceans moves closer to the shores, thus creating a tide.

The tides are quite predictable and occur in according to the three interacting cycles:

  • A half-day cycle caused by the rotation of the earth within the rotational field of the moon results in tidal movements every 12 hours and 25 minutes.
  • A 14-day cycle based on the superposition of the gravitational fields of moon and sun.
  • Interaction of the gravitational fields of sun and moon at new and full moon result in maximum spring tides.
  • Minimum neap tides occur at quarter phases of the moon, when the sun’s force of attraction cancels out that of the moon.

All these cycles are highly predictable, and so is the variability of the tidal energy output. The following picture illustrates the distribution of tidal phases:

These periodical movements of tides can be exploited to produce electricity. Currently, there are two main technologies. The first one is to harness power through dam-like structures that trap rising waters on one side and release it back to the other turbines that spin to generate electricity. The second one is tidal stream technology that harnesses fast-flowing currents to spin turbine and generate electricity. The former is best known, while the latter is only beginning to be tested commercially.

The main advantage of tidal power is that tides will be there as long as there are celestial bodies of the Sun system. They are thus renewable, and much more predictable than wind and solar power. However, in the case of tidal electricity, location is everything.

First, depending on the changing positions of the celestial bodies, the magnitude and character of the tidal motions also varies. The effects of the Earth’s rotation and local geographies of the sea levels and coastal lines have an impact on the availability and intensity of tidal power.

Second, tidal power plants are very site-dependent, and the number of places where they can be constructed is very limited geographically, as opposed to the other renewable energy sources. The following map, created by B.C. Energy, illustrates this point very clearly:

The availability of sites where a tidal power station can be constructed is limited by the geography of the sea and coastal lines, because the tides of sufficient range and flow velocities are to be found only in certain places. The other problem with tidal power is its high cost that requires high upfront investments in the construction of the tidal facility. The same can be said regarding the various forms of hydropower, although it is much less site-dependent, it requires even more initial investments to create artificial lakes at which the hydro-electrical plants are based.

Wind and Wave Power

Winds are created by the Sun’s heating of the Earth and the latter’s rotation. Wind power is exploited by the means of Horizontal Axis Wind Turbines (HAWT), which represent 90% of the world’s wind turbines in use (there is also an alternative, Vertical Axis design that comprises the remaining 10% share). There are also smaller wind turbines in use by individuals.

HAWTs have large angled propellers with blades that catches the wind. As the wind passes through the blades, it causes the entire blade assembly (the rotor) to spin around the central nacelle on the top of the tower. The nacelle is a complex housing, in which a gearbox is located. The gearbox converts the incoming rotational force with a low speed into a high-speed outgoing rotational force that is powerful enough to run an electrical generator that is also located in the nacelle.

While generally cheap and widely available, wind power is the least predictable of all of the variable renewable energy sources. Because of the variable nature of the wind, grid operators are compelled to use day ahead forecasting to optimize the use of available power sources next day. They also rely heavily on weather forecasting to predict the likely wind energy output. The picture below presents an example of the day ahead prediction and actual wind power, evidencing a rather strong correlation between the two:

Wind power also has other limitations. It is highly intermittent and non-dispatchable, since it depends on many factors that have an important impact on its output. First, location does matter, although not as much as in the case of tidal power. Second, such things as wind speed, air density, and the characteristics of the turbine (among others) can cause significant variations in the output of wind power generators. The speed of the wind is one of the most important factors, since, depending on the turbine, it must be above 3.5 m/s in order to generate electricity, but below 25 m/s, otherwise it would damage the turbine.

Wave energy largely depends on wind, and that’s why the two can be considered together. In general, the power available from waves tends to follow that available from wind, but due to the mass of the water is less variable than wind power. The fluctuations of waves energy are different, as waves in deep water lose their energy and by this smooth out only slowly and therefore can travel long distances. Wave energy, however, is subject to cyclic fluctuation as well, dominated by wave periods and wave heights. As a result of these fluctuations, the power level available from waves varies daily and monthly, as well as seasonally.

Geothermal Power

There are two primary sources of geothermal energy: radioactive decay and the primordial heat of the Earth that was created during its original formation. In the former case, the process of decay of certain radioactive elements (like uranium-235 or thorium-232) occurs naturally in the ground below the Earth’s surface. As a result of this process, a lot of heat is generated, that can be used productively. Since the Earth’s interior has only decreased its temperature by a few hundreds degrees over the entire period of its existence, geothermal energy is practically inexhaustible, and the process of radioactive decay is ongoing anyway.

In the latter case, the solid outer layer of the Earth’s surface insulates us from the heat that was produced in the process of the plant’s formation. The primordial heat continues to flow from the interior of the Earth to its surface through the slow conduction of solid rocks, and heat transport fluids like water and magma. It can also be usefully exploited.

To do so, one needs to find a large source of available heat, put it into a reservoir to contain it, and lock it in there using a barrier. Finally, there must be some kind of carrying agent, for example, a fluid to transfer the heat.

The reservoirs are usually rock units with high permeability and temperature. Once such a hot unit of rock is surrounded by impermeable rock layers, the latter can function as barriers and contain the heat. The extraction of geothermal is carried out by means of drilling into the reservoirs. The conventional way of extracting geothermal power is implemented in the locations where the rock is porous, and there is hot water inside. Such locations are usually found in the areas where magma has poked through the continental crust and created convective circulation of groundwater.

Geothermal power has many advantages, including its very stable and predictable nature, as well as minimal operating costs. However, the initial capital costs are significant, being sometimes up to $4 M per 1 MW, depending on the size of the power plant and local geography. Over 50% of the costs are absorbed by drilling. Moreover, geothermal power is somewhat site-dependent and, most importantly, can be a very risky investment, because after spending millions on exploration, the resources found can be unfit for exploitation.

Solar Photovoltaics

We have already written about how PV solar stations work and what is the nature of the photo-effect, so let’s concentrate on its advantages as a source of renewable energy.

Solar PV plants can operate for years without incurring much of operation and maintenance costs, so that the O&M costs are extremely low as compared to conventional power technologies.

In grid-tied PV systems the electricity produced can reduce or eliminate the use of grid electricity during peak hours of operation (during the day). This advantage requires a time-of-use meter, which may not be available to some users. Grid-tied PV systems also reduce the amount of transmission losses that occur as a result of transmission of electricity over long distances. They can also reduce or eliminate completely the use of grid electricity during the peak hours.

The other advantages of PV solar energy can be listed as follows:

  • The sun is a clean, renewable, energy resource that is proven and increasingly cost competitive, as the costs of solar panels steadily fall down, and more research and development efforts are put into the field of solar photovoltaics
  • Increased use of solar energy builds energy security, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, and moves us toward a sustainable energy future
  • Using solar PV systems help reduce peak loads, postponing or preventing the need for additional baseload energy generation and distribution infrastructure (hydroelectric dams, coal-fired power generation stations, and underwater electrical cables)
  • Solar requires no fuel or moving parts, makes no noise and produces zero emissions with minimal maintenance.
  • In remote sites, solar PV competes aggressively with the costs of electricity derived from conventional sources and areas requiring extensive power line construction may find solar PV to be more cost effective.

In sum, solar energy is the best investment choice among the sources of renewable energy. It is not as heavy in terms of the capital costs as tidal and geothermal (and much less risky); it is simple, but, unlike wind and waves, quite predictable. It is also much less site-dependent, although it requires considerable amounts of free areas. As the industry develops, the costs of solar panels, as well as capital costs per unit of energy will continue to fall down, making the investment opportunity even more interesting. The concluding pictures provide a few snapshots of the lay of the land in the solar photovoltaics over the recent decades:

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