By Andy Sambidge
Abu Dhabi will see start and finish of pioneering flight in 2015; Masdar named host partner of Solar Impulse team
Abu Dhabi will host the start and finish of the first solar-powered flight around the world, which is scheduled to take off next year, it has been announced.
Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg are planning the pioneering trip in March 2015 with their Solar Impulse 2 (Si2) aircraft.
The round-the-world tour is expected to take 25 days over a period of 4-5 months. Solar Impulse is currently finalising the stages after Abu Dhabi and expects to make stopovers in Asia, the United States and in Southern Europe or North Africa, before returning to Abu Dhabi in July 2015.
Si2 will be delivered to Abu Dhabi by cargo plane from the Payerne aerodrome in Switzerland towards the end of the year and will be showcased during the World Future Energy Summit as part of the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week in January.
The announcement was made in New York on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.
Masdar, Abu Dhabi's renewable energy company, has been named as the host partner of Solar Impulse and its team will be hosted by Masdar and Abu Dhabi at the start of January for testing and training prior to the flight, a statement said.
Masdar has been tasked by the government with investing in and advancing the renewable energy and clean technology industry both domestically and internationally.
Dr Sultan Ahmad Al Jaber, UAE minister of state and chairman of Masdar said: "Abu Dhabi, Masdar and Solar Impulse have in common a pioneering spirit, a long-term vision and a desire to explore new horizons.
"We share a commitment to foster the development of technological advances in alternative energy sources in order to contribute to a cleaner, more sustainable future."
Piccard added: "This well-matched partnership will show Abu Dhabi to be a centre of expertise when it comes to renewable energy and at the same time Solar Impulse will demonstrate the far-reaching applications of clean energy during the first solar-powered flight around the world."
Borschberg said: "We have chosen this location as being the best and most suitable departure point for the round-the-world tour, due to its climate, infrastructure and commitment to clean technologies."