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Solar Circumnavigation Shows Latest Breakthrough in Renewables

09 Aug 15:00 by Steve Walia

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The first solar-powered plane to circle the world entirely without any fossil fuel has landed safely and heralded a world first. The Solar Impulse 2 has successfully completed its course using only solar energy, marking an important breakthrough in aviation and solar power usage before it landed in Dubai.

The journey was over 43,000km and took over 156 months in different legs, beginning in Abu Dhabi in March of last year before being airborne for 23 days in total. The remainder of the time was spent on land waiting for air traffic control and favourable weather conditions to align.

Bertrand Picard, the pilot behind the scheme, said that it demonstrated the effectiveness of modern solar PV cells and their efficiency of operation, saying that in a decade electronic craft could be making short-haul flights with as many as fifty passengers on board using the same technology.

He also anticipates that the clean energy technologies used on the Solar Impulse could be used on the ground to slash carbon emissions. The flight is being described as an incredible achievement, with industry experts heaping praise on its work. The Lexington Institute said that the development could raise a very meaningful prospect of solar-powered extended flights in the near future with minimal logistical requirements such as refuelling.

For now, the test project will be extended to drone applications, and now further research will take place into the role of clean technologies. The two pilots, who took turns to man the controls from the single seat, are both passionate about continuing to advance the cause of renewable-energy-powered flight and encourage a progressive move away from damaging fossil fuels. The news certainly heralds an interesting development for the future viability of 'clean' flights.