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Solar Plane in Madrid, Next Stop Morocco to connect continents with power of sun

Solar flight coincides with launch of World Bank-financed solar project in Morocco to connect continents with power of Sahara sun


AFP, WashingtonPost/AP, & (Madrid, Spain, May 25, 2012) — The Swiss solar-powered plane, Solar Impulse, successfully completed the first leg of its record-breaking 2,500-kilometer intercontinental flight from Switzerland to Morocco, crossing over the Pyrenees last night and landing early Friday morning in Madrid, where it will make a brief layover and pilot change before continuing to its final destination, Rabat in Morocco.

After touching down in the Moroccan capital, the pioneering Solar Impulse team will join in events highlighting the convergence and capacity of renewable energy technologies, particularly solar power, at the invitation of the Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy (MASEN) and under the High Patronage of King Mohammed VI.

Solar Impulse’s successful solar-powered flight connecting continents — without using a drop of fuel — coincides with the construction launch the world’s largest solar-thermal power plant, a World Bank-financed project commencing near Ouarzazate in southern Morocco that will harness the power of the Sahara sun and ultimately produce 2,000 megawatts of clean, renewable, carbon-free energy for North Africa and Europe.

For the pilots of the experimental Solar Impulse aircraft, Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg, its all about the flying, as they pick up important experience and practice for their planned round-the-world flight in 2014.

Borschberg piloted the first leg of their journey to Morocco, taking off in the Solar Impulse May 24 from Payerne aerodrome in Switzerland, and safely landing the solar aircraft in Madrid-Barajas airport after a flight lasting 17h 3min 59s. “The flight went very well and thanks to the team of meteorologists, everything went according to the plan: it was extraordinary,” said Borschberg. “It was incredible to fly alongside the barrier of clouds during most of the flight and not need to hesitate to fly above them. This confirms our confidence in the capacity of solar energy even further.”

Once the airplane has undergone routine technical check-ups, Piccard will pilot Solar Impulse on the second leg of its first intercontinental flight. That approximately 800km flight will soar over the Straits of Gibraltar and Mediterranean, landing at Rabat-Salé airport some 20 hours later.

To raise awareness of solar energy’s potential to reduce global dependence on petrol and its derivatives, MASEN, which oversees Morocco’s solar energy plan, will host the Solar Impulse team in Rabat. “We look forward to the landing of the HB-SIA which carries so many messages we wish to share on the use of renewables, in particular solar energy” said MASEN President, Mr. Mustapha Bakkoury.

Solar Impulse symbolizes the pioneering and explorer spirit necessary to find new solutions, outside of old habits and certainties, to respond to today’s challenges,” said Piccard as the solar plane landed on the runway in Madrid.

Solar Impulse live stream:


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