The future of aviation may be powered by electric drives and charged while you are flying in the sunshine. This solar powered airplane that uses the same solar pv technology ( SolarWorld ) as is used to power homes and businesses around the world has a range of 1000 km.
The solar electric plane has a cruising speed of 120 km/h and is powered by a 16 kwatt electric motor drive system. It is a single seat plane that weighs in at 300 kgrams plus the pilot. The design is really adapted from a glider design but with an electric driven propeller ( one ) and solar cells on the wings.
Flying during the day allows for the batteries to recharge a little and once on the ground you can plug it and get a fast 100 % recharge for the next days flying.
Plug-in options for electric vehicles as well as this electric plane provide a way for us to use clean energy for transportation but does not necessarily guarentee it. If we use dirty coal generator produced electricity to power our clean electric vehicles we will in fact make our global co2 problem worse.
It is vitally important that we couple development and adoption of electric vehicles with that of renewable energy. Wind and solar farms enhanced by energy storage units will allow clean electric generation to completely eliminate the need for fosssil fuels. In this way we must plan our future as a clean energy roadmap to zero emissions.
This type of solar powered innovation is exactly the kind of thinking and initiatives that we need from our industry supported by local governments. It is not government that will change the world but a hand full of industry leaders and companies such as this one.
About Gordon Smith Gordon's expertise in the area of industrial energy efficiency and alternative energy. He is an experienced electrical engineer with a Masters degree in Alternative Energy technology. He is the co-founder of several renewable energy media sites including Solar Thermal Magazine.