Solar Impulse, the Swiss solar-powered aeroplane project sponsored by Deutsche Bank as main partner, was presented today to the European Parliament in Brussels within the framework of the seminar «Towards a more sustainable aviation». The Vice-President of the European Commission with responsibility for Transport, Mr Jacques Barrot, publicly announced the European Commission’s patronage of the Solar Impulse project, in the presence of Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg, President and CEO of Solar Impulse respectively.
In a world dependent on fossil fuels, the Solar Impulse project is a wake-up call to industry to take up the challenge of clean mobility. The aim is to harness the power of the sun to propel an aeroplane, day and night by solar power around the world without fuel or polluting emissions. A goal that is inaccessible unless we push back the boundaries of today’s technologies in all relevant fields.
For the European Commission, Solar Impulse is an example of what industry and energy policy makers should be doing to foster energy efficiency and clean mobility. For Solar Impulse, the patronage of the European Commission serves as recognition of its action in favour of renewable energies.
«A world without the aeroplane is unimaginable. But we still do not have a blueprint for the aeroplane of the future, an environmentally-friendly aeroplane. Taking today’s technologies and materials to their limits and beyond to accelerate the emergence of tomorrow’s technologies is the challenge embodied by the Solar Impulse project», declared the Vice-President Jacques Barrot. «It is an example that should be followed by all players within society, a symbol of what we should be aspiring to!»
«I admire those who have the political courage to force our society to extract itself from its dependency on fossil fuels. By becoming a symbol of Europe’s commitment to clean mobility, Solar Impulse undertakes to do its bit to convey renewable energies as an opportunity that should not pass us by», confirmed Bertrand Piccard, the project’s founder and president.
«The only way of being able to fly only on solar energy is to save as much energy as possible and to exploit the available resources to a maximum», explained André Borschberg, CEO and pilot of the project. «The research carried out within the framework of the Solar Impulse already shows that we can save impressive quantities of energy. In this sense, the project has been invaluable in triggering developments that will come about in areas other than aviation.»
«Fighting against climate change by dissuading people from air travel is absurd: what we need to do is reconcile mobility and respect for the environment, which is the very essence of the Solar Impulse project,» underlined Mrs Christine de Veyrac, a Member of the European Parliament who has organised the seminar ‘Towards a more sustainable aviation’. «This project should not only spawn technological advances due to the innovations necessary for its success, but also raise awareness among Europeans of the need to respect the environment and put the spotlight on the problem of depleting energy resources.»
The first Solar Impulse prototype plane, the HB-SIA is currently being built in Dübendorf, close to Zurich. It will have a wing span of 61 metres and weigh in at 1,500 kg. The test flights are scheduled to start in early 2009.
The Solar Impulse project is supported among others by the Solvay group, by Omega and by the Deutsche Bank, its main partners. The Ecole Polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) is its official scientific partner, Altran its engineering partner and Dassault-Aviation its consultant aircraft manufacturer.
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