Once again it’s time to look at how the Solar Impulse 2 project is coming along.
Readers will recall that the Solar Impulse 2 plane was designed by a team of Europeans with the aim of making the first solar-powered “solo flight” around the world and thus show the world the endless possibilities of solar power. Unfortunately the only thing that has been “endless” is the trip itself (and the costs)!
Grounded in Hawaii
Recall that the Solar Impulse 2 plane began its journey from Abu Dhabi way back on March 9 (this year). Then some 200 days later it got stuck in Hawaii and hasn’t gone anywhere ever since due to massive technical problems, also read here and here.
So far instead of bringing attention to the technology’s potential, the project has only managed to show the glaring limitations of solar power technology. Earlier I noted that the plane needs the dimensions of a jumbo jet – just to carry the payload of a car.
The Solar Impulse 2 has run into another huge problem, it is reported: money. But that problem has been resolved, at least for now, reports the Canadian CBC. It writes that the project has “raised the $27 million ($20 million US) it needs to finish the trip, co-founder and pilot Andre Borschberg said on Monday.”
Money maelstrom project: $170 million
Moreover the CBC reports on the project’s total budget since it began in 2004: “…some $227 million ($170 million US)”.
My God. Imagine all the other real and pressing problems that could have been alleviated with that kind of money. This is just irresponsible and the project’ backers need to be told that: chemical maker Solvay, Swiss lift maker Schindler, power grid maker ABB and Swatch’s Omega brand, to name a few. It is arguably a sin to burn away that kind of money on what is clearly a debacle while hundreds of refugees are drowning in the Mediterranean. It’s frustrating to see such misplaced priorities and funds.
It is a fact that the Solar Impulse 2 has been a greenhouse gas nightmare involving the burning of tens of thousands of liters of fossil fuels because an entire support crew has had to fly along in a fossil fuel powered jet.
One year late!
The CBC writes that the plane is planned to fly on to Phoenix, New York, Morocco before finally coming full circle back to Abu Dhabi. The team “hopes” to start again in April, 2016, when “there’s enough sun” to recharge batteries.
At this rate, they could walk around the world almost just as fast.
Route unknown – depends on the weather!
Yet, they don’t even know where they will be flying next, and that it all depends on the weather. This is how wild the project has been. The CNC writes:
Vancouver, as well as San Francisco, Los Angeles or Phoenix are all candidates, Borschberg said. They also reckon on a U.S. Midwest pit-stop followed by New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport, before crossing to either Europe or North Africa and, finally, Abu Dhabi. He hopes a year’s delay will not undermine the message he aims to spread at the Paris climate talks.”
CBC writes that Borschberg is hoping that someday this type of travel be implemented “on a large scale“.
Boy, wouldn’t that be progress. Fly from Tokyo to L.A. – in just 6 months (if you’re lucky)!
Hat-tip: Indomitable Snowman Phd