Solar-Powered Plane Sets More Records
Swiss pilot Bertrand Piccard completed the world's first intercontinental flight in a giant solar powered plane.
After the19-hour voyage from Madrid on his experimental carbon-fiber aircraft, Piccard landed in the Moroccan capital Rabat Tuesday night. Thirteen years prior, Piccard set another record on the world's first non-stop around-the-world balloon flight.
The Solar Impulse, an aircraft as big as an Airbus A340 but as light as an average car, had 12,000 solar cells on the wings turning its four electrical motors. Each of the motors charges 880-pound lithium polymer batteries during the day, enabling the aircraft to carry on flying at night.
"Solar Impulse has demonstrated that a solar-powered airplane can fly day and night using no fuel. The next challenge is to fly around the world," the organizers said on their website solarimpulse.com.
For the next five days, the Solar Impulse will stay in Rabat before taking off to Ouarzazate in the south of Morocco for the launch by King Mohammed VI of the construction of the largest-ever solar thermal plant.
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"The question is not to use solar power for normal airplanes," Piccard told AFP in Madrid. "The question is more to demonstrate that we can achieve incredible goals, almost impossible goals, with new technologies, without fuel, just with solar energy, and raise awareness that if we can do it in the air, of course everybody can do it on the ground.”
In 2010, the aircraft made history as the first manned plane to fly 24/7 on just the power of the sun. It also holds a record for staying aloft for over 26 hours, setting yet another record for altitude by flying at 30,298 feet.
The Solar Impulse's 1,500 mile trip is just a rehearsal for the aircraft's planned trip around the world in 2014.
Major move forward for UK’s nascent marine energy sector
Although the industry is small and the technologies are limited, marine-based energy systems look to be taking off as “the world’s most powerful tidal turbine” begins grid-connected power generation at the European Marine Energy Centre.
At around 74 metres long, the turbine single-handedly holds the potential to supply the annual electricity demand to approximately 2,000 homes within the UK and offset 2,200 tonnes of CO2 per year.
Orbital Marine Power, a privately held Scottish-based company, announced the turbine is set to operate for around 15 years in the waters surrounding Orkney, Scotland, where the 2-megawatt O2 turbine weighing around 680 metric tons will be linked to a local on-land electricity network via a subsea cable.
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Described as a “major milestone for O2” by CEO of Orbital Marine Power Andrew Scott, the turbine will also supply additional power to generate ‘green hydrogen’ through the use of a land-based electrolyser in the hopes it will demonstrate the “decarbonisation of wider energy requirements.”
“Our vision is that this project is the trigger to the harnessing of tidal stream resources around the world to play a role in tackling climate change whilst creating a new, low-carbon industrial sector,” says Scott in a statement.
The Scottish Government has awarded £3.4 million through the Saltire Tidal Energy Challenge Fund to support the project’s construction, while public lenders also contributed to the financial requirements of the tidal turbine through the ethical investment platform Abundance Investment.
“The deployment of Orbital Marine Power’s O2, the world’s most powerful tidal turbine, is a proud moment for Scotland and a significant milestone in our journey to net zero,” says Michael Matheson, the Cabinet Secretary for Net-Zero, Energy and Transport for the Scottish Government.
“With our abundant natural resources, expertise and ambition, Scotland is ideally placed to harness the enormous global market for marine energy whilst helping deliver a net-zero economy.
“That’s why the Scottish Government has consistently supported the marine energy sector for over 10 years.”
However, Orbital Marine CEO Scott believes there’s potential to commercialise the technology being used in the project with the prospect of working towards more efficient and advanced marine energy projects in the future.
“We believe pioneering our vision in the UK can deliver on a broad spectrum of political initiatives across net-zero, levelling up and building back better at the same time as demonstrating global leadership in the area of low carbon innovation that is essential to creating a more sustainable future for the generations to come.”
The UK’s growing marine energy endeavours
This latest tidal turbine project isn’t a first for marine energy in the UK. The Port of London Authority permitted the River Thames to become a temporary home for trials into tidal energy technology and, more recently, a research project spanning the course of a year is set to focus on the potential tidal, wave, and floating wind technology holds for the future efficiency of renewable energy. The research is due to take place off of the Southwest coast of England on the Isles of Scilly