Solar Impulse 2 ready to resume its round-the-world mission


The Solar Impulse 2 (Si2) round-the-world adventure is ready to resume, after vital repairs were completed and the sunny season has returned. The ground-breaking project, which sees Swiss duo Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg pilot a plane around the world with only solar energy as fuel, had been halted in Hawaii for almost a year after suffering battery damage during the longest leg of its journey.

Setting off from Abu Dhabi on 9 March 2015, the original plan was to complete the trip in just 5 months. However, after a grueling, five days and five nights, 8,900 km flight from Japan to Hawaii piloted by Andre Borschberg, the aircraft suffered battery damage due to overheating.

That was the longest single leg of the journey, and, unfortunately, it would have taken too long to replace the batteries and continue the journey during the favorable season, so the team decided to take their time with the replacements, and prepare properly for the next stage. “We replaced the batteries with similar ones as we were happy with the technology,” a Solar Impulse spokeswoman told pv magazine. “The plane worked extremely well during the flight of 5 days and 5 nights, the damage of the batteries came from an evaluation error of our side.”

During the break, the team added a new integrated cooling system and ran 13 maintenance flights to make sure that everything was functioning correctly and that the aircraft was performing well. They also used the time to add a renewed vigor and drive to complete the Si2 mission.

“As we experienced many times with Solar Impulse, obstacles often turn out to be opportunities for improvement,” said André Borschberg, CEO and Co-Founder. “Ultimately, this time was used to create the strong mindset within the team to continue our adventure. It takes sometimes more time to build up the right spirit than to develop new technologies.”

Today, the team confirmed that they are back in “mission mode,” and they are waiting for favorable weather conditions to complete the next leg of their journey, which will take them to North America. Bertrand Piccard will pilot the next stage, however the team have yet to decide on a landing destination, with Phoenix, the San Francisco area, Los Angeles and Vancouver all in the running.

Once in North America, the 17,248 monocrystalline silicon cells, with a total output of 45 kWp, will power the Si2 to New York, Europe or North Africa, and then finally back to Abu Dhabi, where the adventure all began.

“The primary purpose of this adventure is to demonstrate that modern clean technologies can achieve the impossible and encourage everyone to use these same energy efficient solutions on the ground in their daily live for mobility, construction, lighting, heating, cooling and more,” added Bertrand Piccard, Initiator and Chairman of Si2.

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