Masdar News

Solar Impulse 2 returns to Abu Dhabi after historic round the world flight

02 Aug 2016

HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco, HE Doris Leuthard, Vice President of the Swiss Confederation, and HE Dr Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, UAE Minister of State and Chairman of Masdar, welcome pilots back to UAE

Abu Dhabi, UAE, 26 July 2016Solar Impulse 2 returned safely to Abu Dhabi this morning to successfully complete its historic round the world flight without using a drop of fuel.

The first aircraft to circumnavigate the globe using only solar power, Solar Impulse 2 touched down at 04:05 to a rapturous reception at Al Bateen Executive Airport in the UAE capital, returning to the city where its historic adventure began.

His Serene Highness Prince Albert II of Monaco, Her Excellency Doris Leuthard, Vice President of the Swiss Confederation, and His Excellency Dr Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, UAE Minister of State and Chairman of Masdar, Abu Dhabi’s renewable energy company and official host partner of Si2, led the welcoming committee of international dignitaries and VIPs.

Si2 took to the skies for the last time when it departed Cairo at 03:28 Abu Dhabi time on July 24with Swiss pilot Betrand Piccard, Initiator and Chairman of Solar Impulse, at the flight controls. Since leaving Abu Dhabi in March last year piloted by CEO and Co-Founder André Borschberg, the solar-powered aircraft has visited 16 cities across eight countries and four continents, with both Piccard and Borschberg taking turns at the controls, as part of efforts to gather global support for the adoption of solar energy and clean technologies.

HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco paid tribute to the ingenuity of the Solar Impulse 2 project in transforming awareness of the potential of clean energy, and the role of Abu Dhabi.

"It is a historic moment for Monaco and for me, because the Principality has the pleasure of housing Solar Impulse's control centre and my Foundation is a partner of this adventure. We have shared so many hopes and so many joys together throughout this epic journey.

“Solar Impulse will mark our history. And we will remember this day, which will remain the day of great victory for solar aviation, and also the day when we were given the proof that we can move towards a low carbon economy, reconciling the mobility and progress we all need, with the protection of our planet, which is our greatest duty.”

Attending the landing, HE Doris Leuthard said: “Courage, innovation and knowledge: for Switzerland, those three words will forever resonate with the year 2016. In fact, after celebrating the completion of the longest and deepest underpass in the world, the Gotthard tunnel, Solar Impulse 2 has proved to the world that by investing in education and sustainable energies, all our dreams can come true.

“This has been clearly shown by the instrumental role played by Swiss universities in this adventure, most notably the Federal Polytechnic School of Lausanne, whose technologies represent a giant step towards global connectivity, sustainability and hope for our youth.”

Recognising the UAE and Masdar for their contribution to the project, she concluded: “Today, an idea born in Switzerland has landed in the United Arab Emirates. We hope that tomorrow an idea born in the UAE will land in Switzerland. It is because we believe in this cooperation, as well as in innovation, that Switzerland was the first country to register its participation in Expo 2020 in the UAE city of Dubai.”

HE Dr Al Jaber said Masdar’s leadership in delivering renewable energy projects across the world made it a natural partner of Solar Impulse 2, and Abu Dhabi the perfect location to begin and end its historic journey.

“We are pleased to welcome back Dr Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg after their outstanding success in circumnavigating the world using only the power of the sun. Their achievement is one that stands alongside those of the great pioneers of aviation.”

“As a leader in developing innovative renewable energy projects and technologies, Masdar is committed to supporting ground-breaking initiatives that will inspire and deliver a more sustainable future,” HE Dr Al Jaber added.

“Solar Impulse has proven just how practical the application of solar energy can be. It will also provide valuable data that will lead to critical improvements in two key areas: energy storage and efficiency. Masdar is truly excited about the endless possibilities of solar energy, and we will be part of taking such technologies to the next level.”

Adnan Amin, Director General of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), headquartered in Abu Dhabi, noted that Solar Impulse 2 had changed perceptions of solar power, not least its ability to provide a reliable power source at night, as well as during the day.

He said: “I am delighted to congratulate Solar Impulse on their pioneering round-the-world flight fuelled entirely by energy from the sun. This remarkable achievement is not only a technological breakthrough but also a clear signal that the age of renewable power is here to stay. By demonstrating that renewable energy can provide sustainable, reliable energy today, and that innovative solutions can unlock even more potential in the future, Solar Impulse has been able to both raise awareness about the tremendous promise of renewable energy and push technological boundaries forward.”

As it circumnavigated the world, Solar Impulse 2 passed over countries where Masdar projects are already demonstrating the potential of renewable energy to extend energy access, reduce carbon emissions and diversify the energy mix.

An iconic image of Si2 over the Gemasolar power plant in southern Spain, in which Masdar is a partner, juxtaposed the first world’s first aircraft to fly around the clock using the energy of the sun, next to the world’s first solar power plant able to generate electricity 24 hours a day.

Solar Impulse 2 has showcased cutting-edge technologies in lightweight materials, energy storage, and energy use and efficiency that promise dramatic cost and emissions savings if applied on a wider scale, similar to Masdar’s own investment in clean-tech innovation.

“Solar Impulse embodies the clean technology spirit of reengineering everything in life to make it more energy efficient, and to integrate renewables wherever they make sense technically and economically,” said Solar Impulse Initiator and Chairman Betrand Piccard.

“This is not only a first in the history of aviation; it is above all a first in the history of energy. I’m sure that within the next ten years we’ll see electric airplanes carrying 50 passengers on short- to medium-haul flights. But that’s not enough. The same clean technologies used on Solar Impulse 2 can be implemented on the ground in our daily lives, halving the CO₂ emissions of our world in a profitable way.”

“Flying one leg with a completely new type of airplane is difficult enough, but flying around the world is a real challenge,” said CEO, Co-Founder and fellow pilot André Borschberg. “More than a demonstration, it’s the confirmation that these technologies are truly dependable and reliable. It’s not a question of whether it’s possible anymore; it’s only a question of implementation. Solar Impulse is like a flying smart grid: producing, storing and distributing energy in an efficient way. If we can make it work in an airplane, we can make it work in our cities and communities in a similar way.”

“We are thrilled to be back in Abu Dhabi and humbled by the warm welcome of the UAE,” Piccard and Borschberg both added. “The unstinting support of Abu Dhabi and Masdar has been an indispensable part of our record-breaking journey. If innovators around the world can work together with the same spirit demonstrated by Solar Impulse and its partners, a more sustainable future for all is an achievable goal.”

UAE national Hasan Al Redaini escorted Solar Impulse 2 around the world as the UAE’s official representative.

“It has been my great honour to have represented the UAE among a team of international experts who have broken new ground in the field of aviation and renewable energy,” he said. “As we lookto this exciting chapter in aviation and energy history as a source of inspiration and human ingenuity, it’s important to remember that Solar Impulse is a means, not an end.”

Solar Impulse 2 began its epic journey from Abu Dhabi in March 2015, with stopovers in Oman, India, Myanmar, China, Japan, the United States, Spain and Egypt.

Over the course of its journey, the aircraft has set no fewer than 19 world records, including the world's longest solar-powered flight in terms of both time (117 hours, 52 minutes) and distance (8,924 km). It completed more than 500 flight hours, cruising at altitudes of up to 9,000 metres at average speeds of between 45 km/h and 90 km/h.

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About Masdar

Masdar is Abu Dhabi’s renewable energy company which works to advance the development, commercialisation and deployment of clean energy technologies and solutions. The company serves as a link between today’s fossil fuel economy and the energy economy of the future. Wholly owned by the Mubadala Development Company PJSC, the strategic investment company of the Government of Abu Dhabi, Masdar is dedicated to the United Arab Emirates’ long-term vision for the future of energy and water.

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