Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Around the world in a Solar ‘Plane
It is a sad day here in Copenhagen after president Obama’s speech effectively made it obvious that there will be no grandiose agreement coming out of COP15 after all. A side event put up by Switzerland on the use of Solar Energy to fuel a solar plane, was the only interesting happening of the day.
The event showcased the Swiss technological advancement in terms of renewable energy and energy savings. The Swiss Solar Impulse pioneering project which was presented by Dr Piccard and Andre Borsching in boiler suits explained that the sun’s energy is always available, the problem is we humans cannot see the obvious. It is just the fear of the unknown and for some it’s just way too simple to imagine. Today it may be expensive to comprehend, but later when the price of oil jumps to a price we cannot handle, we will be glad we invested in renewable technology with solar energy said Piccard.
The engineers said that by next spring there would be a ‘plane which could take a 5 day flight and by 2011 they were looking at crossing the Atlantic! “ The COP will still be on in 2040,” he said tongue in cheek, “ so its better that we handle the problem now, ourselves.”
A model of the airplane drew a crowd of spectators who wanted to see the zero fuel airplane with a wingspan of an Airbus 340. “ That is in order to minimize induced drag and offer the largest possible surface for the solar cells. The weight of the ‘plane is the same as a family car, and every unnecessary gram has been eliminated, in order to build a super light air-craft.”