A little over a year ago the world’s biggest solar powered aircraft, Solar Impulse 2, started its round the world journey. This week it completed its 15th leg, landing in Spain finishing its transatlantic flight in just over 71 hours with pilot Bertrand Piccard.
Upon landing Piccard reflected on his experience stating, “The new world is the world of modern, clean technologies. The world of respect for the environment. The world of innovation. The world of pioneers. This is the world that Solar Impulse and its team would like to represent, would like to promote. So we really hope that this flight symbolizes the flight from the old world to the new world.”
New solar technologies are advancing in big ways. There are unlimited possibilities heading into the future. Using a zero-fuel aircraft to travel the globe is just the beginning.
This new milestone exploring the use of clean energy in one of the largest transportation sectors could mean positive impacts on the global goal to reduce CO2 emissions. The Solar Impulse 2 can even fly at night by capturing the solar energy during the day to charge its lithium-ion batteries for energy at night. It is the first solar powered aircraft with this ability. However, there is always room for improvement. For the Solar Impulse 2 to remain safely airborne, weather conditions have to remain mostly clear and sunny for optimal energy collection.
Despite facing the technical, atmospheric, and operational issues along the solar aircraft’s journey, the project promotes the importance of renewable energies and energy efficiency. Every new achievement like this brings us one giant step closer to a future of 100% clean energy. Many more advancements like this will be necessary, however, to ensure the path to that future. This is just one piece of the environmental movement. So much media has been focused on the electric and solar powered car developments. But this development adds to the diversity within the movement. It is imperative to create a healthier future and protect this planet from the dangers of climate change. Today it’s solar powered solo aircrafts. What’s next?