As I write this, the Solar Impulse is traveling 94.2 km/h at an altitude of 7,016 meters en route to Madrid, where co-pilots Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg will switch seats before leaving for their final destination Morocco. This is the world’s very first sun-powered transcontinental flight and its historic landing in Rabat, Morocco will coincide with the Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy’s (MASEN) inauguration of the first of five massive thermo-solar plants in the Ouarzazate region.
After heavy fog in Payerne, Switzerland threatened to derail the well-laid plans to commence the first sun-powered transcontinental flight this morning, Borschberg was finally able to lift off at 08h24 UCT+. And ground crews in Toulouse are on standby in the event that meteorological or mechanical issues require an emergency landing.
It is possible to track progress of this historic flight (lots of history being made today as the second day of Egypt’s first real, competitive elections come to a close) on the Solar Impulse website. Available are directional details, a map, and even live footage of the ground crew.
At present, the plane’s battery power is at 100%, its solar-generated capacity at 60% and its engine power at 45%. It’s cold outside and the Pyrenees mountains are up ahead.
Once Solar Impulse completes its 2,500 km journey and arrives in Rabat, which is loosely scheduled to happen in the next couple of days, the pilots will be hosted by MASEN.
They will take part in a tour of the 160MW plant further south, which comprises just a small part of Morocco’s plan to produce 2,000 MW of solar energy by 2020, resulting in carbon emissions savings of 3.7 million tons.
More on Solar-Power and Morroco: