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Renewable Energy Vision
Expert analysis on the most pressing issues facing the renewable energy sector in the U.S and abroad from ACORE staff, members and supporters.

Solar Impulse Shows Power of Solar Flight

Published on 17 Jun 2013  |   Written by    |  

Earlier today in the early morning hours, pilots Betrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg safely landed the solar-powered airplane, the Solar Impulse, at Dulles International Airport outside Washington D.C. The successful journey to Dulles marks the plane’s arrival on the East Coast after its departure from San Francisco in early May. As more people learn about the Solar Impulse, more people are realizing the incredible potential of solar-powered aviation.



(Above: A picture of Solar Impulse provided by the Energy Department)

ACORE President and CEO Vice Admiral Dennis McGinn holds the success of the Solar Impulse’s incredible journey across the U.S. close to his heart. McGinn had over 5,500 flight hours in high-performance Navy jets during his 35-year career in the United States Navy. The Vice Admiral reminisced about an event which lead him to first think of the potential of solar planes…

“I remember one night in particular, many years ago somewhere out on the Pacific when I was trying to land my single engine Corsair II light attack jet on an aircraft carrier through multiple layers of clouds, severe turbulence, and driving rain. It was near impossible to land my aircraft on the carrier after a harrowing mission, when in all the mayhem suddenly an idea came to me. What this nation needs to do is invent a solar powered airplane so that I will only have to fly in good weather, when the sun is shining,” laughed the Vice Admiral.

Capt. Dennis V. McGinn-1991-1993

With the successful trans-continental flight of the Solar Impulse, solar-powered aviation is now a reality. The plane is the epitome of game-changing innovation: its wings pack a whopping 12,000 photovoltaic cells that allow the plane to function safely and reliably without any other type of fuel, making it the cleanest airplane ever to fly. And unfortunately for the Vice Admiral and future avitators, it packs enough battery storage and energy efficiency measures to fly well into the night hours!

At today’s press conference welcoming the Solar Impulse team to the nation’s capital, Vice Admiral McGinn was joined by Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, ACORE Board of Directors Co-chair and Executive Director of the Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance at Stanford University, Dan Reicher, and President of the Solar Energy Industries Association, Rhone Resch.

The Swiss team of scientists and pilots are already planning a flight around the world in 2015 with a second-generation plane currently in development.

moniz doe flickr 

(Energy Secretary Ernext Moniz addressing the audience at Dulles International Aiport)

By Noah Ginsberg, Communications Associate, ACORE


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