BitHub Africa flagship project Melanin Solar partners with Hivos East Africa to deploy a crowd-grid distributed energy solution (MSBX) powered by Bitcoin Lightning Network (BLN) and Whive Protocol
BitHub Africa, in collaboration with Hivos East Africa, deployed its first blockchain-backed sustainable energy solution called the Melanin Smart Box (MSBX) in a Maasai village known as Singiraine in Kajiado, Kenya. This deployment follows five years of research and development by BitHub Africa at its research lab in Nairobi.
These efforts were made possible in partnership with the County Government of Kajiado, allowing installation of the initial pilot phase at a local dispensary, school and church within the village. The community has applauded the project, which they say is proving to be highly valuable to them. “There was no proper lighting in many institutions in the village, coupled with insecurity at night. Since we have Melanin Solar, we have made savings on costs that would go towards purchasing petrol,” said a Village Elder in Singiraine village.
Melanin Solar, one of the forerunner projects by BitHub Africa, and the first of its kind in Africa uses blockchain technology, leveraging both Bitcoin Lightning Network (BLN) and Whive Protocol. Communities can share energy amongst themselves over the BLN as well as store excess energy in the form of Whive digital tokens. BLN is a second layer network built on Bitcoin blockchain that enables transactions to be automated by the MSBX in real-time while decreasing the costs associated with using Bitcoin’s layer 1 blockchain.
The Whive blockchain protocol launched on 02/02/2020 is a peer-to-peer (p2p) blockchain protocol that is incentivizing the building of sustainable energy solutions through trustless rewards enabling users to convert excess solar energy into blockchain-based digital tokens, a process known as digital energy storage.
As a green-first blockchain protocol, one of Whive’s outstanding features is CPU mining; optimized to accelerate solar mining adoption. The protocol can also be used for other Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) projects, particularly in wind and mini-hydro projects in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) outlined by the United Nations.
The Whive utility token has since been exposed to market conditions after its listing on the SWFT Exchange in Singapore. BitHub Africa was also instrumental in the development of the Whive Protocol as one of the main contributors together with US-based Ujengo Lab LLC. Save for digital energy storage, the distributed energy project presents an array of other benefits to the community, which includes the ability to share energy between themselves in a peer-to-peer(p2p) marketplace using blockchain technology.
“If you look at rural areas where you have somebody who has a solar system and maybe they do not use it over the weekend or certain hours during the day, that electricity could benefit somebody else. That person can buy electricity from them and it not only gives this person extra income but also increased and versatile access to energy without a large capital cost upfront,” said Wangari Muchiri, Innovation Lead, Voices for Climate Action at Hivos.
In a recent interview, BitHub Africa’s co-founder John Wainaina Karanja asserted that the project has the benefit of turning consumers of solar energy who rely on loans to acquire solar home systems to become prosumers, who produce, consume, store, and share excess energy with members of their community in a scalable manner. Spurred by a sense of urgency towards decarbonization efforts for the sake of the planet, the use of open-source, decentralized technology can expedite progress, creating transformational levels of innovation and transparency. Blockchain has the ability to accelerate a shared vision and provide market-led solutions in relation to decarbonization. It is a community effort to ensure that the industry does not further aggravate the onslaught of climate change.