What better way to demonstrate the potential of energy initiative than flying a sustainable airplane around the world! The program which originated in Switzerland is called Solar Impulse and its goal involves a 35,000 kilometer (21,748 miles) journey, circumnavigating around the world on a solar-powered airplane. The main objective is to demonstrate the power that renewable energy possesses and the potential it has to change the future of transportation. The individuals that made this innovative project possible are Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg who also are navigating the plane. Bertrand Piccard has an extensive background (ranging from psychiatry to aerospace) and was first to accomplish a non-stop around-the-world trip on a hot air balloon in 1999. He is also the initiator and chairman of the program. Andre Borschberg (who has an extensive background as an engineer and a fighter pilot) is the Co-founder and CEO. Both of these astounding individuals had done previous attempts traveling around Europe in 2011, Morocco in 2012, and Across America in 2013. The longest journey they have yet to accomplish starts on March 8th 2015. The plane is scheduled to depart from Abu Dhabi and has plans to head eastward, circling back to where it started. This initiative has over 200 international sponsors and around $100 million has been spent over the last 12 years in development.
Previous models of this lightweight airplane have set many world records for solar-powered flight. The Solar Impulse 2 is the most innovative yet! It has a wingspan of 72 meters (236.22 feet) which makes it wider than a 747 Jumbo Jet yet it only weighs about 2.3 tons. Its top wings are covered by 17,000 solar panels that utilize the energy of the sun for fuel. For night-time flying the plane contains energy-dense lithium-ion batteries so we know the pilots of this daunting trip are always safe.
What does this mean for the future?
According to BBS Environmental Analyst, Roger Harrabin, solar energy is predicted to become the dominant source of electricity by 2050. Not only that, but the price of solar panels have dropped 70% recently and are expected to halve in the following decade. But, get this, Deutsche Bank forecasts that based on current fossil fuel prices, solar power will produce power as cheaply as gas in two thirds of the country by 2020. This solar-powered plane is the first step to the development of more environmentally friendly methods of transportation. As globalization keeps becoming more common, it is imperative to conceive new ways for people to continue doing what they're doing more efficiently.
So let us keep our head in the clouds and hope for the safest of trips to the amazing individuals that made Solar Impulse 2 happen.
For daily updates, visit SolarImpulse.com for the live feed of the Plane landings and other current news!!!