EU PVSEC: Einstein winner takes political stance

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The man who, in 1999 completed the first round-the world, non-stop trip in a hot air balloon, and who, along with his partner Andre Borschberg and the Solar Impulse team, went on to create and fly the first ever solar airplane, gave an impassioned speech, where he stated, "For change, we need to act on a political level – philosophical speeches are nice, but useless."

He went on to vent his frustration over the politicians who continually highlight the "big and expensive" problem of climate change. "But how can you motivate people when you say there is a big problem and that it’s expensive?" he asked.

"Carbon dioxide is the symptom of the crazy way we consume fossil fuels. What is the treatment? Fortunately, it exists. Clean tech – it is profitable for the user and can be used everywhere."

"We already have all that we need: products, customers, potential profit, job creation. But it still doesn’t work."

Piccard believes that the mindset of those who decide must be changed if the clean tech industry can move forward. "The end user will buy what’s available on the market," he stated. "We need a legal framework that will oblige the industry to consume less energy."

He added, "We have the possibility to save energy everywhere. Why are we not doing it then? Because it’s not mandatory. People are afraid of the unknown."

Having completed the first night flight using solar energy and a long flight within Europe, the next stage for Piccard and his team is a flight around the world.

The Einstein Award was presented to both Piccard and Borschberg. It is the seventh such prize to be given to those who make special contributions to the solar industry. The ceremony took place at Hamburg’s Cruise Center Hamburg-Altona. Renowned sand artist Natalya Netselya was also on hand to provide attendees with a demonstration of her impressive work.