UNEP Supports First Ever Round-The-World Solar Flight

“Solar Impulse brings global attention to the enormous potential of renewable energy and clean technologies in shaping a future where innovation and pioneering ideas thrive, while supporting a healthy planet.” UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Exexcutive Director Achim Steiner

Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg, of Solar Impulse, today launched the first-ever attempted flight around the world using only solar power as they simultaneously embark on a new partnership with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

In the footsteps of the great aeronautical firsts, Solar Impulse intends to achieve the first round-the-world solar flight to demonstrate how existing clean technologies and a pioneering spirit can change the world.

The attempt comes following 12 years of research, tests and development. Using only solar energy and clean technology, the Swiss-born duo, who are ardent advocates for a clean future, will take turns flying the single-seater aircraft, starting from Abu Dhabi for the first of 12 flights spread over a period of five months.

“With Solar Impulse, we want to demonstrate how clean technologies can simultaneously protect the environment and create job and profit opportunities, bringing more energy-efficient products on the market,” Bertrand Piccard and Borschberg said in a joint statement.

As an enthusiastic partner of the Solar Impulse Foundation (SIF) UNEP believes the attempt will help to demonstrate how a new low-carbon economy is needed and possible. This venture is just the beginning of a wider partnership between UNEP and SIF aimed at generating broad public and political interest in environmental causes and inspiring positive action in support of action on climate change and sustainable development through research and demonstration of ground-breaking initiatives.

The partnership will be particularly active in boosting support for ambitious goals in the lead-up to major events on climate change and sustainable energy initiatives, especially the UN Climate Conference in Paris – COP21. The Solar Impulse adventure will also serve to promote educational and awareness-raising programs for students on energy use and consumption.

“Solar Impulse has been demonstrating to the rest of the world the power of solar energy through its record-breaking flights across Europe, the Mediterranean Sea and the United States over the last few years,” said UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner. “In doing so, it has been able to effectively bring global attention to the enormous potential of renewable energy and clean technologies in shaping a future where innovation and pioneering ideas thrive, while supporting a healthy planet.”

“The Solar Impulse team has shown for us many times over how a seeming impossibility can be overcome and has highlighted a solution to the critical issue of the growing energy demand in the context of a warming climate,” he added. “And as the global community gears up for the post-2015 Development Agenda and an agreement on climate change, UNEP will continue to turn to their inspiration in giving us a glimpse of what that new world could look like.”

The attempt is being made in Solar Impulse 2 (Si2), a revolutionary single-seater aircraft made of carbon fiber with a 72 meter wingspan (larger than that of the Boeing 747-8I) and a weight of just 2,300 kg – the equivalent to that of a car.

The only airplane able to fly day and night without a drop of fuel, Si2 is equipped with 17,000 solar cells built into the wing. During the day, the solar cells recharge lithium batteries weighing 633 Kg (2077 lbs.) which allow the aircraft to fly at night.

The clean tech revolution: The zero-fuel airplane

Swiss pioneers Bertrand Piccard (Chairman) and André Borschberg (CEO) are the founders, pilots and driving force behind Solar Impulse, the first aircraft able to fly day and night without a drop of fuel ? propelled solely by the sun’s energy. With the Si2 aircraft, an idea born in Switzerland, they are attempting the first Round-The-World Solar Flight in 2015. Supported by Main Partners Solvay, Omega, Schindler, ABB, and Official Partners Google, Altran, Bayer MaterialScience, Swiss Re Corporate Solutions, Swisscom and MoëtHennessy, this historic first aims at demonstrating that clean technologies can achieve the impossible.

The Si2 Round-The-World flight is taking-off from the Abu Dhabi (UAE), this month and return by late July 2015. The route includes stops in Muscat, Oman; Ahmedabad and Varanasi, India; Mandalay, Myanmar; and Chongqing and Nanjing, China. After crossing the Pacific Ocean via Hawaii, Si2 will fly across the U.S.A. stopping in Phoenix, the Midwest, and New York City at JFK. After crossing the Atlantic Ocean, the final legs include a stop-over in Southern Europe or North Africa before completing the Round-The-World flight at its final destination in Abu Dhabi.

For more information, please contact:

Claudia Durgnat, Head of Media Relations, Solar Impulse

+41 79 229 8128, press@solarimpulse.com

Shereen Zorba, Head of News and Media, UNEP

+254 (0) 788 526000, unepnewsdesk@unep.org

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