Jun 28 2016

Pioneering Changes in Renewable Energy

Published by under Student blog entries

A team of entrepreneur pilots from Switzerland, along with their team, are shedding light on the endless possibilities that are available with the use of solar energy. Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg are on a journey around the world aboard the Solar Impulse 2, a single-pilot airplane that runs completely off of solar power. The two are tag-teaming the journey, which is currently only half completed and it is already making history. Records that Solar Impulse 2 has broken at present include longest distance and duration for a solar-powered flight and longest nonstop flight of any kind (O’Connor 2016). The record breaking flight from Nagoya to Hawaii lasted 5 days and 5 nights and was completely without the use of any fuel (Solar Impulse 2015).

"Solar Impulse 2", a solar-powered plane piloted by Bertrand Piccard of Switzerland, flies over the Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco, California, U.S. April 23, 2016, before landing on Moffett Airfield following a 62-hour flight from Hawaii. Jean Revillard/Solar Impulse/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY.

“Solar Impulse 2”, a solar-powered plane piloted by Bertrand Piccard of Switzerland, flies over the Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco, California, U.S. April 23, 2016, before landing on Moffett Airfield following a 62-hour flight from Hawaii. Jean Revillard/Solar Impulse/Handout via REUTERS

There are 17,248 solar cells that power the Solar Impulse 2 and it weighs almost 200 times less than an average passenger plane (O’Connor 2016). The plane cruises, however, at one-seventh of the speed (O’Connor 2016). This seemingly drawback of the plane’s slow speed actually highlights a key goal for the team at Solar Impulse. They are not trying to innovate air travel by producing this solar plane. They are, however, aiming to spread the message that renewable energy is the key to saving Earth’s natural resources and improving our quality of life (Solar Impulse 2015).

The plane’s journey is making headlines across the globe, which is critical since combating climate change must be an international effort in order for it to be effective. The inventors of the plane are trying to show how readily available this sort of technology is and that the potential is just waiting to be tapped into. In a way, Solar Impulse 2 is acting as a model inviting innovators and explorers around the world to contribute to the field of renewable energy. Bertrand Piccard emphasized Solar Impulse’s goal by saying, “If an airplane has succeeded to fly day and night without fuel, then we can power our world on clean energy” (Solar Impulse 2015). He also has said, “The problem with our society is that, despite all the grand talk about sustainable development, we are a long way from making use of the clean technologies that are already available to us” (Solar Impulse 2015). Public awareness is one of the first steps in igniting this necessary change and Solar Impulse 2 is certainly pioneering the way.

 

Sources:

O’Connor, Lydia. 2016. Plane Flies Across The Pacific Using Only Solar Power. April 25. Accessed 2016. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/solar-impulse-san-francisco_us_571d3082e4b0d912d5fef6fd.

Solar Impulse . 2015. Solar Impulse: Our Story. http://www.solarimpulse.com/our-story.

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