On its Journey Around the World, World’s First Solar Powered Plane Lands in India Today
Solar energy is finally getting the attention it should have gotten about 30 years back. As environmental predictions grow dire, innovations in the field of sustainable transport mediums have been gaining steam. We have seen cars running on electricity, hydrogen and solar power. We have also seen efforts by researchers to develop airplanes powered by renewable fuels. One such audacious effort called the Solar Impulse 2 is undertaken by Swiss aeronaut Bertrand Piccard, and businessman André Borschberg. The solar-powered plane will be landing in Ahmedabad tonight at around 10 PM.
Solar Impulse 2 is on a trip around the planet with multiple stopovers on the way. It started its journey from Oman on the 9th of March and will take 16 hours to reach the Indian city of Ahmedabad. The distance of 1,465 kilometers between Muscat and Ahmedabad will be covered without using a drop of fuel.
Solar Impulse 2 has a wingspan of 72 meters that makes it wider than the 60 meter wingspan of the Boeing 747. The wings are covered with 17000 solar cells that recharge the battery of the plane. The plane weighs around 2,300 kilograms and flies at an average speed of 25 knots or 45 Kmph with a maximum speed varying between 90 to 140 Kmph.
On its circumnavigation trip across the planet, Solar Impulse 2 will travel a distance of 35,000 kilometers. During this trip, it will make 12 stops. During these stops, the innovators will organize various awareness programs like conferences, visits of schoolchildren and information exchanges. After Ahmedabad, the plane will make a stop at Varanasi. The two innovators will take turns to pilot the single seater plane in its mission around the planet.
The success of this trip will be a major boost for renewable energy technology. Solar power is a major source of energy that has unlimited potential for providing free and clean electricity. Let’s hope the success of this mission leads to a radical increase in the research of solar powered planes that may someday lead to entire passenger jets powered by the sun.