One of the biggest problems for air travel is the reliance on fuel for flights. Not only does this produce an abundance of harmful emissions, but it also drives the cost of tickets to nearly unaffordable heights for overseas travel. The biggest advantages of solar energy are being considered as a way to revolutionize the airline industry.
A solar-powered aircraft with the ability to navigate the globe was recently unveiled in Switzerland. Its total travel time is five days, and it needs no fuel to make its journey. The Solar Impulse 2 will be put to the test next year when it takes its first official flight.
The plane is equipped with solar panels and batteries. The batteries provide the backup power needed to fly at night, though it is hoped that the technology will advance further to allow the solar panels to fully power these types of aircraft at night as well as during the day. The Solar Impulse 2 has 17,000 solar panels, and an impressive 236-foot wingspan. It is ultra light, and is truly a vision of engineering beauty. It will need to undergo a series of shorter test flights before it goes around the world, and if all goes well, solar power could be the thing that takes you on your next vacation.
The advantages of solar energy include lower costs and zero emissions, which is exactly what the airline industry needs in order to provide reliable, cost-efficient, green technology. Today’s commercial airliners use an unbelievable amount of fuel—36,000 gallons of gas on a ten-hour flight in a Boeing 747—making solar power a better option for ticket prices and the environment.