What is Glow?

David Vorick / July 4, 2024

Glow is a climate project with a goal of replacing all grid electricity with clean energy.

More than a project, Glow is a movement, and people across the world are working together to fight a battle that, for maybe the first time ever, feels like it's going to be won.

Glow isn't your typical climate effort telling people to use less water and have fewer children, and it's not trying to convince capitalist titans that they need to prioritize the environment over their profits. Instead, Glow is a project of abundance. Glow is winning the war on carbon, not through sacrifice or deceleration, but by creating such a surplus of clean power that a full transition to sustainable energy is an effortless step for society.

It Starts with Solar

Not many people realize this, but the cost of installing solar at scale has decreased by 5x since the year 2010. In fact, solar is now cheaper than all sources of dirty energy.

The cost of building a solar farm has come down so much that nearly anyone can build their own. The cheapest fully functioning solar farm on Glow today was built for a total cost of less than $10,000, and it serves the power needs of an entire home.

Once built, a solar installation will typically continue to operate for more than 25 years. Maintenance, if needed at all, has costs measured in the hundreds of dollars per decade.

No other energy source is so accessible, affordable, and maintainable. Especially with financing, nearly anyone can get involved and contribute to a cleaner society at a physical level. Solar is democratic energy.

Amplifying Contributions with Recursive Subsidies

Glow's role in the solar economy is to catalyze construction. Specifically, Glow rewards builders with USDC and GLW when they construct new solar farms that compete with dirtier sources of power.

The rewards are delivered through a novel incentive mechanism called a "recursive subsidy". Glow's recursive subsidy requires solar farms to contribute 100% of their electricity savings and revenue towards the construction of even more solar.

This creates a powerful amplification effect. When money is spent constructing a solar farm, that solar farm will produce revenue. Glow requires that the revenue is used to construct another solar farm, which will produce its own revenue, and so on.

In practice, Glow's recursive subsidy turns each original dollar of construction funding into $20 of brand new solar, creating one of the most effective climate platforms in the world.

Maximizing Impact with Foundational DePIN

While recursive subsidies are good at amplifying the total amount of money that gets spent building solar, Foundational DePIN is the engine that maximizes the total effect of each dollar. Pioneered by Bitcoin, the idea is to create a giant pile of money that gets distributed to contributors proportional to the number of resources they provide to the project.

Though it's a simple concept, Foundational DePIN has established an incredible track record. In the case of Bitcoin, it took less than 5 years to scale from a toy protocol where people mined using their computers at home to being the world's largest distributed computer, consuming more electricity than many of the world's most prosperous nations. Beyond sheer scale, Bitcoin mining is efficient. In the same time that Nvidia improved the efficiency of its GPUs by 200x, Bitcoin miners were able to improve the efficiency of Bitcoin ASICs by more than 60,000x.

This strategy has proven to be consistently repeatable. Using Foundational DePIN, Filecoin was able to build a network of more than 20 million terabytes of data storage and Helium was able to create a wireless network with more than 1 million access points around the world. Throughout crypto history, dozens of projects have successfully used Foundational DePIN to create borderline absurd amounts of infrastructure.

With Glow, Foundational DePIN is used to create borderline absurd amounts of clean energy. Solar farms are incentivized by two giant piles of money. The first is a GLW token rewards pool, and solar farms receive GLW tokens proportional to the amount of electricity revenue they bring to Glow. The second pile is USDC, funded by that electricity revenue. The USDC gets distributed to solar farms proportional to their total carbon impact.

Between the two rewards pools, builders are incentivized to both maximize the total amount of money that they bring to the protocol as well as maximize their total carbon impact.

Inexorable Growth

Glow is only 6 months old, but it's already been through multiple major transformations, growing from solar farms funded by friends and family to solar farms strategically constructed by full time professionals wielding millions of dollars of institutional capital.

On the governance side, the audit process has grown from a haphazard set of requirements that wobbled at every strange circumstance to a polished standard with specific, scalable requirements that minimize the opportunity for cheating while allowing professionals to simultaneously build dozens of solar farms spanning wide ranges of unique situations.

Most of all, Glow has grown through its people. Glow spent over a year as a project with barely half a dozen proponents, being told at every corner that the idea was crazy, that solar would never be interested in crypto, that carbon credits had no value, that Glow would never work.

Then, one by one, people began to see the vision, the progress, and the evolution. They found themselves believing, not just that Glow could make a difference, but that Glow could go all the way.

Glow's transformations haven't been the product of a few elite intellectuals, but rather the product of the overwhelming passion and pride of people all over the world, pouring their heart and soul into making Glow what it is today.

Best of all, there's room for everyone to make a difference. Whether its through a simple financial contribution of $5 per month, or through joining the professionals that are identifying the most impactful places to construct new solar, or simply through sharing the story of Glow with friends, there's a way build towards a brighter tomorrow.

If Glow resonates with you, we'd love to meet you. Our home is Discord, where you'll find us working passionately to change the world.

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