The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) has published a review of various incentive schemes to motivate energy efficiency, among them the use of virtual currencies.
ACEEE is a nonprofit organization promoting energy efficiency through various activities including policy analysis and collaboration with businesses and policymakers.
The paper analyzes 22 game-based solutions that can be used as part of an energy efficiency program. Evidence shows that participants become more stimulated to achieve results when gamification is employed. Over and above the basic objective of saving energy, participants can be motivated by rewards, entertainment experienced in the game, competing with other participants and observing real-time data on how their efforts are paying off.
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The virtual currency schemes that are discussed are not necessarily of the cryptocurrency (cryptographically secured, bitcoin-derived) variety, of which several altcoins already claim to stimulate energy efficiency. Rather, they can take the simple form of electronic currencies centralized with an authority, similar to World of Warcraft Gold.
One such scheme is run by UK-based Ecoinomy, which encourages more economic use of energy in the workplace by rewarding employees with donations to charities of their choice. The common currency in the system is “e.coins”, and employees can forge alliances to have their e.coins donated to a common cause.
Though technologically trivial, such currencies themselves have the advantage of not requiring the energy intensive mining process, which would undermine the effectiveness of such a program. Though several altcoins claim to have negligible energy requirements, they have not yet graduated to widespread use.