AFP, Solar Impulse, Moroccan American Trade & Investment Center (Rabat, Morocco and Washington, DC, June 30, 2012) — The experimental solar-powered plane, Solar Impulse, flying without using any fuel, took off with the Sahara sun on Friday morning from Ourzazate, Morocco, and returned to Rabat after a successful flight over the Moroccan desert and Atlas Mountains.
“Magnificent, very nice flight” said Swiss pilot Andre Borschberg as he climbed down from the aircraft.
Earlier this month, the solar plane completed its historic 2,500-kilometer intercontinental flight from Switzerland and Madrid to Morocco. After a stop in Rabat, the Solar Impulse on June 21 made the difficult flight to the Sahara desert and Ouarzazate, where Morocco is building the world’s largest solar-thermal plant to harness renewable power from the Sahara sun for North Africa and Europe.
The solar plane, powered by 12,000 solar cells in its 207-ft wing-span and not a drop of fossil fuel, first touched down in Morocco on June 5 after flying from Switzerland via Madrid. After landing, the Solar Impulse team joined events highlighting renewable energy technologies, under the patronage of King Mohammed VI and at the invitation of the Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy, MASEN, which oversees Morocco’s solar energy plans.
MASEN President Mustapha Bakkoury welcomed Solar Impulse pilot Bertrand Piccard at Rabat’s airport, and called the flight important for raising awareness about solar energy’s potential to reduce global dependence on oil, saying, “we share a common message with Solar Impulse.” He said Morocco will be producing solar energy by 2014, when Solar Impulse plans to fly a round-the-world tour.
The solar flight to Morocco coincides with construction launch of a World Bank-financed solar thermal project in Ouarzazate — the first of five sites — that will produce 2,000 megawatts of renewable energy from the Sahara sun and create many jobs in the area.
For more information on Solar Impulse and Morocco’s solar energy plans:
- Solar Impulse team: http://live.solarimpulse.com/
- Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy (MASEN): http://www.masen.org.ma/index.php?Id=undefined&lang=en (English language available)
- Morocco’s Agence Nationale pour le Développement des Energies Renouvelables et de l’Efficacité Energétique (ADEREE): http://www.aderee.ma/ (English language available).