First solar-powered plane to travel across continental borders makes safe landing

Written By: Thatcher Michelsen June 6, 2012 0
Morocco wants to get 40 percent of its electricity from solar power by 2020.
Morocco wants to get 40 percent of its electricity from solar power by 2020.

Recently on this blog, we talked about the complications involved in green air travel. On June 5, however, there was a major breakthrough in eco-friendly aviation.

The Associated Press reports that for the first time ever, a solar-powered plane completed an intercontinental flight yesterday. Swiss pilot Bertrand Piccard, who has circumnavigated around the globe in a hot air balloon, took the plane from Switzerland to Madrid first, and then made history by crossing over from Europe into northern Africa on a 20-hour trip to Rabat, Morocco.

At first, it may seem curious as to why Morocco was the destination chosen for the monumental landing, but it makes all the sense in the world. In 2009, the nation revealed a $9 billion project to generate 40 percent of its energy from solar power by 2020. In order to do that, the country plans to make five solar energy plants in that timeframe.

"With solar energy you can do many things, you can fly a plane from Payerne, Switzerland to Rabat, you can use solar energy for daily activities – it's no longer just in the realm of science," Mustafa Bakkouri, the head of the Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy (Masen), said to the media outlet. "We have to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, most of which we import."

And, despite its location in close proximity to the Middle East, the cost of oil has overwhelmed the Moroccan economy, according to the source. With the landing of the innovative Solar Impulse plane and the proceeding "lavish ceremony," Morocco was able to proudly celebrate concrete progression toward energy sustainability.

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