Friday, 15 January 2021

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Solar Impulse touches down

25.07.16 - The Solar Impulse solar aircraft finishes it's circumnavigation. 

History will be made today when the Solar Impulse 2 touches down at midnight in Abu Dhabi. Piloted by Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg the flight will be the first time that a solar-powered aircraft has successfully circumnavigated the globe. Beginning on their final leg yesterday from Cairo, this marks the culmination of a 22,000 mile journey that has taken 15 months so far. It has included short-term trips over Asia to Japan, the Pacific and one non-stop transatlantic flight in the previous month.


The Solar Impulse II aircraft. Photo: Solar Impulse.

Dr Piccard, who is a psychiatrist and explorer, hopes that the success of this journey will pave the way for more mundane uses of renewable energy. Though he recognises that solar-powered commercial airliners are likely decades away, the point has now been made that such a project is possible.

When they touch down in Abu Dhabi today this will mark the second world-first circumnavigation that Piccard has achieved – having achieved the world’s first circumnavigation by hot air balloon in 1999.

“For a long time nobody thought we could break the dependency on oil,” said Dr Piccard. “We thought protection of the environment was expensive and required a lot of sacrifice in our lifestyle and today we see that it’s wrong. We see that there are enough clean technologies that can not only produce renewable energies but also save energy.”


Andre Borschberg (left) and Dr Piccard (right). Photo: WSJ.

This project is pertinent for the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations. Particularly by promoting new and innovative ways of using green energy this helps highlights SDG no.7 (Affordable and Clean Energy) and no.13 (Climate action). Prominent and forward-thinking projects such as Solar Impulse 2 will be instrumental in tackling climate change, lessening dependence on fossil fuels and reducing pollution.

Dr Piccard touched upon some of the consequences of climate change he experienced during his journey, “With climate change, the weather forecasts are not so reliable,” he said. “The climate becomes erratic.” Piccard and Borschberg had encountered weather problems that caused unexpected delays when they were travelling through Hawaii earlier this year. 

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