Posted by Amy Atlas, Communications Lead for Google Green
At 4:05am local time today, an atypical plane landed on a tarmac in Abu Dhabi: Si2, a futuristic aircraft entirely powered by solar energy. It was imagined and built by the two Swiss explorers Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg, who founded Solar Impulse to promote the use of clean energies. They set the goal of circumnavigating the world by air, powered by the sun, with no fuel or polluting emissions. Starting in 2004, it took the team more than a decade to design and proof test this unique aircraft. Si2 took off in March 2015 for a 17-leg journey, spanning over 26,000 miles and using 11,000 kWh worth of solar energy. After 510 flying hours, Si2 has set 19 world records, according to the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI), on this historic expedition.
Google helped build and host Solar Impulse’s digital presence, and on the first day of their round-the-world journey, we jointly launched the #FutureIsClean initiative, a platform to encourage the world to support the adoption of necessary clean technologies.
We’re deeply committed to powering the world with clean energy. Our goal is 100% renewable power, and so far we've committed to purchase nearly 2.5 gigawatts of renewable energy—equivalent to taking more than 1 million cars off the road—making us the largest non-utility purchaser of renewable energy in the world.
But commitment also comes through advocacy. That’s why in 2013, Google became the internet and technology partner of Solar Impulse: to raise awareness for what's possible with clean technology and renewable energy. Everybody could use the plane’s technologies on the ground to reduce our world’s energy consumption, save natural resources and improve our quality of life.
A global community formed to join the #FutureIsClean movement, following the progression of the Si2 during its travel around the world on www.solarimpulse.com, and tuning in for the pilot’s conversations with the Mission Control Center in Monaco (MCC). A virtual cockpit, built with the help of Google engineers and platforms, provided the telemetrics of Si2 (altitude, speed, battery level, equipment on board, etc.) and immersed children and supporters in the technical and human challenges that Solar Impulse embarked upon.
Today, we join the rest of the world in congratulating the Solar Impulse team for this outstanding accomplishment. Solar Impulse's pioneering spirit enabled them to push human boundaries and demonstrate that clean technologies can achieve goals we once thought were impossible.