Experimental Solar Plane Takes 24 Hour Flight

The Solar Impulse is relying on sun power as it rides around the clock and attempts night flight.

The Solar Impulse, an experimental solar plane, took off on a historic ride around the world early today from Geneva, Switzerland.   Supporters hope that this flight will prove the value of solar energy. 

Solar Powered Airplane
Solar Powered Airplane

 

According to team co-founder Bertrand Piccard, a record-breaking balloonist who’s father and grandfather, the prototype has been designed to test and promote new energy-efficient technologies. 

“The goal of the project is to have a solar-powered plane flying day and night without fuel,” Piccard said. “This flight is crucial for the credibility of the project.” 

Ten test flights have been completed since the project began seven months ago. The prototype aircraft is a single-seater shaped like a giant dragonfly.  It has 12,000 solar panels spread across its 207 foot (63 meter) wingspan.   The aircraft is powered by four small electric motors and will depend on the sun to charge its batteries. 

Solar Powered Airplane in Flight
Solar Powered Airplane in Flight

 

The theory is that the aircraft will store enough energy during the day to last through the night.  Pilot Andre Borschberg, a former flight jet pilot, will attempt to stay alert during the flight with the help of a ground control team that is monitoring the aircraft on the teams website

Borschberg,  57, is wearing a parachute just in case he runs into trouble in the air.

Obama reserves $2 billion dollars for US Solar Projects

Nearly $2 billion dollars in loan guarantees will be given to two companies to boost the US solar energy industry, President Barack Obama has announced.

One of the companies, Abenoga Solar, plans to build the largest solar power plant in the world in Arizona.

President Obama said the projects would provide more than 5,000 new jobs.

The Arizona plant will power 70,000 homes and cut carbon dioxide emissions.

Most of the money will come from government stimulus funds designed to boost the economy during the recession.

Called the “Solana” project,  Abenoga said it would build on an area of 1,900 acres at Gila Bend near Phoenix, using thermal storage-equipped parabolic trough technology, with 280 MW of power output capacity.

According to the company’s website, 1,500 new jobs will be created during the plant’s construction with over 100 positions for staff to maintain it.

The second company, Abound Solar Manufacturing, will manufacture state-of-the-art thin film solar panels, the first time anywhere that such technology has been used commercially, the BBC’s Jane O’Brien reports from Washington.

Plants will be built in Colorado and Indiana, creating 2,000 construction jobs and 1,500 permanent jobs, the Associated Press reports.

President Obama had promised during his election campaign for the White House to create manufacturing and construction jobs in the green power industry.

“We’re going to to keep competing aggressively to make sure the jobs and industries of the future are taking root right here in America,” he said on Saturday.

The renewable energy industry in the US faces tough competition from developers in China.

President Obama also acknowledged the loans would not be an instant solution.

Around 125,000 jobs were lost in the last month, the government reported.

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