Solar-powered plane to make round-the-world trip next year
Come 2015, India and rest of the world can see the first aircraft that is powered by solar energy and can fly non-stop.
The aircraft, to be unveiled in a few months from now, will make a round-the-globe trip next year, showcasing the latest technology in various countries where it will have stopovers, according to Switzerland-based company Solar Impulse, which is manufacturing it.
The plane, weighing around 2,740 kg, will be powered by 12,000 solar cells and can fly at the speed of 70 kms per hour.
It can fly day and night continuously, collecting energy from the Sun, the company’s CEO Andre Borshberg told PTI here.
Maintaining that the plane will have only one pilot as of now, he said that while the aircraft can fly continuously day and night, “the limiting factor is the pilot. He cannot sustain endlessly and has to take rest.”
The around-the-world sojourn will be for three months, with the total flight time being 20-25 days and nights.
The journey will begin somewhere in the Middle East and the flight’s first destination will be India.
“We hope to make two stops in India – one on west coast and another in the east – before the aircraft goes to Myanmar,” said the CEO, who is here in connection with preparations for making the India-part of the sojourn a high-profile event.
The longest non-stop flight of five days and five nights will be across the Pacific Ocean, he said.
“The goal is to make an aircraft which has unlimited endurance. It is a human challenge also….besides making the aircraft which is very efficient in energy and energy savings,” he said, adding it should “become an ambassador of what we can do with this technology.”
Explaining the motive behind the initiative which is being supported by the Swiss government, the CEO of Solar Impulse said, “The goal is to inspire people, the young generation about what is possible, about the potential of technology.”
Borschberg said the experiment is to show how renewable energy can be used and energy consumption reduced.
“If we can use renewable energy on an airplane, we can certainly use it on the ground, where it is much more simple,” he said.
He said the aircraft has such technology which makes it efficient with reduced energy consumption that enables it to fly day and night continuously. The same technology can be used on buildings and cars, he said.
“We hope to showcase the technology in India to attract young generation which could help young generation to realise their own dreams,” he said.
Borschberg said the company would gauge the interest of the Government of India and is looking for big industrial houses to host it.
“We hope to do communication in India. We want students to see the pioneering technology,” he added. Pitching for greater use of solar energy, which is clean and renewable form of energy, Borschberg said it can be more useful in remote and hot areas.
It can be used in providing electricity to buildings and power to cars. Solar panels used on this plane can also be used on satellites, he said. “The potential of this technology is immense,” he added.
On why the usage of solar energy is not spreading, the company’s chief said cost of power could be factor. At the same time, he said the high cost of power could be during the initial period and in the long run, it will be worth investing.
He said some Chinese companies have already started pulling down the prices by producing energy at low cost.