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Plane powered by solar energy completes round-the-world trip

By Cornelius Essen, Abuja
02 August 2016   |   1:13 am
Solar Impulse, a zero-fuel aircraft powered entirely by the sun, has safely landed in Abu Dhabi, thereby completing a 40,000-kilometer trip around the world.
In this handout picture taken and released by Solar Impulse 2, a solar-powered airplane, piloted by Swiss pioneer Bertrand Piccardis seen as it lands in Abu Dhabi, with Sheikh Zayed mosque in the background, to complete its world tour flight on July 26, 2016 in the United Arab Emirates. Solar Impulse 2 landed in the UAE early on Tuesday, July 26, 2016, completing its epic journey to become the first sun-powered airplane to circle the globe without a drop of fuel. Jean Revillard / Solar Impulse 2 / AFP

In this handout picture taken and released by Solar Impulse 2, a solar-powered airplane, piloted by Swiss pioneer Bertrand Piccardis seen as it lands in Abu Dhabi, with Sheikh Zayed mosque in the background, to complete its world tour flight on July 26, 2016 in the United Arab Emirates. Solar Impulse 2 landed in the UAE early on Tuesday, July 26, 2016, completing its epic journey to become the first sun-powered airplane to circle the globe without a drop of fuel.<br />Jean Revillard / Solar Impulse 2 / AFP

Solar Impulse, a zero-fuel aircraft powered entirely by the sun, has safely landed in Abu Dhabi, thereby completing a 40,000-kilometer trip around the world.

Initially, the plane was prepared to land in San Francisco after a three-day Pacific Ocean crossing, and the flight was designed to demonstrate the potential of solar energy to drastically reduce global greenhouse gas emissions.

The aircraft took off for the first leg of its current voyage last December, just one day before the signing of the historic Paris Climate Change Agreement, to lend support to global efforts to combat climate change.

According to Environews website, it was gathered, during the last leg of the journey, from Cairo to Abu Dhabi, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Executive Secretary, Patricia Espinosa spoke with Bertrand Piccard, the Swiss pilot at the controls of the plane.

She said: “It is very inspiring what you are undertaking, showing the world that implementing the decisions taken under the Paris Agreement is possible. You are demonstrating that having passion and dedication in this area is the right thing to do and that it pays off and can be translated into very meaningful results.

“We sometimes forget how innovations took place in the past and how the world has changed. We take for granted many of the technologies and the possibilities that we have today.

“But you are exactly doing that, you are breaking new ground and showing that it’s possible to do things in a different way. And you are showing what solar energy can do to get rid of the use of fossil fuels that are causing so much damage to our environment.”

Responding to Patricia Espinosa, explorer Betrand Piccard said, “My personal impression is that most of the industry leaders are ready for the change because they understand that it’s a question of investment, a question of development, and profits.

They’re thinking about that for new products.

“However, governments, on a national level, they’re so afraid of changing. And I think, for me it’s powerful to try to show them that it is in their advantage – for their GDP, for job creation, for the development of their economy.”

Solar Impulse gets its energy from 17,000 photovoltaic cells that cover the top surfaces of the craft. These cells power propellers during the day, but also charge batteries that the vehicle’s motors can then use during the night.

The plane, which has the wingspan of a Boeing 747 but only weighs as much as Swiss adventurers and entrepreneurs Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg, alternatively pilot a passenger car.