SunPower and Solar Impulse join forces

Around 22,000 cells will be used in Solar Impulse’s second solar airplane. They are expected to power the electrical engines; excess solar energy will then be stored in lithium batteries for night flying. SunPower says its product was chosen due to both the high efficiency of its cells, 22.7 percent, and their 135 micron thickness.

"SunPower’s solar cells are optimum for this project, as they offer the performance and low-weight that is needed for our revolutionary solar airplanes," said Andre Borschberg, Solar Impulse co-founder and CEO.

This is the second time that SunPower has supplied its cells to Solar Impulse. The company was also involved in the first solar airplane project, which saw a world record broken in 2010 when it succeeded in flying for 26 consecutive hours powered only by solar energy.

To mark the achievement of Solar Impulse founders Bertrand Piccard and Borschberg, SolarWorld presented them with its Einstein Award at this year’s EU PVSEC in Hamburg, Germany.

SunPower has been involved in a number of unique solar projects over the years. In 1993, its photovoltaic cells were used in the World Solar Challenge, which saw solar-powered vehicles driving from Australia’s Darwin to Adelaide. It also worked with NASA on the unmanned Helios solar plane, and has recently joined forces with Planet Solar to power the largest solar catamaran.