Blog: Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Er, sort of…

No, I’m not talking about the new Superman movie that’s hitting the cinemas soon. Dare I say, it’s something even more exciting. Maybe one for all the renewable lovers out […]

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By Priyanka Shrestha

No, I’m not talking about the new Superman movie that’s hitting the cinemas soon. Dare I say, it’s something even more exciting. Maybe one for all the renewable lovers out there!

When you imagine what the future could be like without gas and coal, what do you see? Roads across the globe filled with electric cars or skies filled with planes powered by solar energy?

Well, if by chance you had made a wish for the latter, it has just been granted. It’s called the “Solar Impulse” and is built by two Swiss pioneers, Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg.

Stretching along its 64 metre wings, the aeroplane is covered by around 12,000 PV cells that power its batteries and allow it to cruise at around 40mph day and night. Currently in the midst of its “Across America” mission, it is said to be the first cross-continental solar-powered flight.

Their goal? To showcase the capabilities of renewable energy and promote the use of clean technologies worldwide. And not just that. The founders have also launched the ‘Clean Generation’ initiative, aimed at getting more investment in technological innovation for a more sustainable future.

I’m sure you wouldn’t disagree the whole project is commendable but a question that popped in my head was, why is it always someone else and not the Brits? The solar plane founders took their own initiative to get a great message across but it seems we have to keep reminding our Government what is good for the UK’s energy future and what isn’t.

Only last week the Committee on Climate Change suggested it is crucial for the UK to make more investments in low carbon technologies rather than fossil fuels, which could actually help the nation save as much as £100 billion. But it always seems to come down to one thing. (You may have guessed it already.) The lack of certainty for investors!

The Committee has laid it all out – make more investments in the low carbon industry and you will help boost the economy, save money and create more jobs.

It seems like the debate is never-ending. But let’s just hope by the time the solar-powered aeroplane’s next mission – a zero-fuel round-the-world flight in 2015 – is complete, the UK becomes proud to show off its “next generation” technology.

How about a device to control the weather for a start?