Solar Impulse Flight

Last year’s historic flight of a Swiss plane powered by the sun and flying through the night is being promoted by its two pilots as a demonstration that clean energy is not only technically feasible but a promise for a cleaner future.

André Borschberg, who flew the beautiful dragonfly shaped aircraft for 26 hours over Switzerland on July 7, 2010, with no fuel on board, calls his Solar Impulse project a symbol of what is possible.

Speaking to businessmen at the American International Club (AIC) of Geneva (October 14), Borschberg conceded that it may take some time before there are manned solar flights, “commercial solar flight is not impossible”.  He noted that several major companies are also pursuing ways to harness the sun, including NASA, the French Aircraft company Dassault and the Helios Project, a plan to convince businessmen to invest in Greece’s eternal sunshine,.

“In 1903 when the Wright Brothers made their historical flight it took another 20 years to cross the Atlantic and another 25 years to transport passengers. To fly with no fuel on board will probably take even more time.

He presented a breathtaking video of his famous flight explaining that the aircraft climbed to 9,000 meters during 14 hours of daylight, descending to 1,500 at night when the craft was powered by the charge of batteries that had stored energy during the day thanks to 12,000 solar cells stored in the 63 meter-long wings.

“Our intention is to get the attention of politicians,” said Borschberg. “We need a legal framework and of course financing. But having a framework is more important.’

His partner at Solar Impulse, Bertrand Piccard, made a similar pitch across town a conference of government officials, investors and technology experts called by the European Future Energy Forum (EFEF)

The two Swiss pilots, Piccard and Borschberg, agreed that while the technology is here, the world still has to tackle the fact that home energy consumption remains too high, despite widespread expressions of support for renewable energy sources.