The Masdar Institute of Science and Technology today announced that 14 members of Young Future Energy Leaders (YFEL) program visited the hangar facility of Solar Impulse in Payerne near Geneva to gain a first-hand glimpse of the world’s pioneering aircraft designed to fly day and night without using fossil fuel or polluting the planet.
The YFEL members were in Geneva to attend the European Future Energy Forum (EFEF) 2011 and interact and network with global renewable energy industry leaders.
Officials at the Solar Impulse facility in western Switzerland briefed members of YFEL on the key features and the distinctive elements that enable the plane to fly longer distances even during darkness.
The YFEL members were informed in detail about the 12,000 photovoltaic cells integrated into the Solar Impulse plane’s wings that feed four electric motors and the lithium polymer batteries that enable the plane to fly at night. Stretching 64 meters long, the plane is extremely light (just 1,600kg) and has an average speed of around 70 km/h.
The visit to the Solar Impulse facility was organized to enrich the YFEL members and expand the scope of their knowledge in the renewable energy industry, to prepare them for future roles as industry professionals.
The 14 YFEL members were selected for the trip to Geneva after a stringent process that included a ‘case study competition’. The participants were assessed and chosen for their critical thinking skills and ability to understand the link between technology and policy in the renewable energy industry. YFEL is an Outreach Program by Masdar Institute, an independent, research-driven graduate-level university focused on advanced energy and sustainable technology.
Dr. Lamya N. Fawwaz, Executive Director of Public Affairs at Masdar Institute, said: “The visit to view a pioneering concept such as the Solar Impulse plane will help open up innovative perspectives for the YFEL members. By creating opportunities for YFEL members to learn more about scientific advances, we aim to channelize their creative energies towards unique theories and nurture them as tomorrow’s energy leaders.”
Zainab Al Ali, Outreach Officer and Coordinator of the YFEL, Masdar Institute, said: “Learning about the renewable energy features incorporated into the Solar Plane was truly an enriching experience for the YFEL members. The visit to Payerne hangar facility in western Switzerland represented the highpoint of the YFEL members’ Geneva schedule, as they could see the tangible proof of future energy solutions that were discussed at EFEF 2011.”
Muna Al Amoodi, YFEL member and a young professional form Dubai Aluminium Company (DUBAL), said: “It was a life-time opportunity for us to see the extraordinary Solar Impulse plane that features the new renewable energy technology. The officials at the Payerne hangar facility thoroughly explained the various components and their functions. I am grateful to YFEL for offering me an avenue to understand this futuristic technology and feel privileged to be part of the team that was selected for the EFEF 2011 in Geneva.”
The visionaries behind the Solar Impulse project are Dr. Bertrand Piccard, Initiator and Chairman, and André Borschberg, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer. In June 2011, the Solar Impulse plane was on display as a special guest during the Paris Air Show at Le Bourget. Earlier in May, the plane took off from an airfield at Payerne in western Switzerland and landed at Brussels airport after a 13-hour flight to receive official patronage from the authorities of the European Union. The plane also holds the record for the longest continuous flight using solar power at 26 hours, 19 minutes and 10 seconds. A larger version of the Solar Impulse is expected to be completed in 2013 for the journey around the world in 2014.
The YFEL program offers young professionals and students from the UAE and abroad an opportunity to become more engaged in finding solutions to the world’s biggest challenges – energy efficiency and climate change. It also aims to bring young professionals closer to government representatives, business leaders and other organizations active in the area of alternative energy and sustainability.
Organized in association with Masdar and supported by the State of Geneva, the three-day EFEF 2011 annual conference and exhibition at Palexpo in Geneva concluded on 12 October.