On July 26, 2016, Solar Impulse 2 touched down in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, at 4:05 am local time, ending a monumental journey around the world while exclusively using nothing but solar energy.
Equipped with 17,248 next generation SunPower Maxeon® solar cells on its wings, fuselage and stabilizers, the solar-powered plane finally completed its mission that began in Abu Dhabi on March 9, 2015. It’s expedition amounted to 26,744 miles (43,041 kilometers), flying across Asia, the Pacific Ocean, the United States, the Atlantic Ocean, and the Middle East. The final leg lasted two days, travelling from Cairo (Egypt) to Abu Dhabi.
Founded and created by Andre Borschberg and Bertrand Piccard in 2014, the Solar Impulse 2 was built and flown to demonstrate that clean technologies can accomplish goals, which were considered unattainable, and be cost-effective as well. For the last 16 months, including a 9-month haitus due to battery problems, the pilots have been preaching their message of clean energy from country to country.
“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,” Piccard said on the Solar Impulse website. “Those solutions bring opportunities to create jobs, make profit, sustain the growth of the industry, and at the same time protect the environment.”
Whether Solar Impulse will make a substantial impact in the global adoption of renewable energy remains to be observed, but one thing is absolutely clear: renewable energy is powerful enough to fly a plane around the world.