SWISS adventurers Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg yesterday took off from Abu Dhabi on a round-the-world flight – with no jet feul.
The plane, the “Solar Impulse 2”, is powered by 12,000 solar cells on the wings and weighs about the same as a family car. It can run both day and night off solar energy alone, a first in aviation history.
Backed primarily by four main partners (Solvay, Omega, Schindler, and ABB), Piccard and Borschberg believe clean technology can close the gap between the sustainability movement and business interests.
The Solar Impulse 2 is meant to demonstrate that, and during city stopovers Piccard and Borschberg will spread clean technology ideas.
The economic implications of solar-powered flight are unclear. After Piccard and Borschberg’s 2013 fuelless flight across America, Wired magazine’s Aatish Bhatia doubted the feasibility of commercial-sized solar planes.
Other segments of the transportation industry are exploring solar possibilities. SpaceX and Tesla founder Elon Musk’s proposed “Hyperloop,” supposedly capable of a 30-minute trip from Los Angeles to San Francisco for a $20 (£13.25) ticket, would run on solar power as well.