Almost one year after the PV powered Solar Impulse clocked a record-breaking 7,200km flight across the Pacific from Japan – a nearly 118-hour, non-stop journey fuelled entirely by the sun – the aircraft has completed a 71-hour transatlantic flight from New York to Seville.
The Atlantic crossing was the latest leg in the groundbreaking aircraft’s round-the-world journey, which began last year in Abu Dhabi, as an exercise in illustrating the possibility of using solar cells, batteries, clever engineering – and no fossil fuels – to circle the globe.
— The UCW Radio Show (@UCWNews) June 23, 2016
As well as using newest generation solar cells, the plane, which has a wingspan greater than a 747 but weighs about as much as an ordinary passenger car, uses a high-capacity lithium-polymer battery system to permit it to fly through the night as well as in full sunlight.
“This aircraft is essentially a flying smart grid,” said André Borschberg, one of Solar Impulse’s two pilots, in statement on Friday.
“Using the energy collected from renewable sources and then providing it efficiently to users who may require it at a different period of time from when it was generated.”
— SOLAR IMPULSE (@solarimpulse) June 23, 2016
The project’s other pilot, Bertrand Piccard, who is Solar Impulse’s initiator and chairman, hopes the plane serves to demonstrate how much more efficient the world could be if these technologies were implemented on a broader scale.
“This is exactly what our partners at ABB are doing – applying these innovations in a way that the entire world can use them,” Piccard said.
“We are seeing huge new opportunities in the field of sustainable transport,” said ABB CEO Ulrich Spiesshofer.
“Recent technological developments are opening the way to major advances in energy efficiency and productivity. We are only just beginning to realize the full potential of these changes.”