Solar panels on the roof of your house – of course. Solar panels on the roof of your car – makes sense, especially if your car is electric. Solar panels on the wings of your plane? That’s a little more futuristic. But it’s happening.
The Solar Impulse 2, debuted in April, seats two, flies about 60 miles per hour and needs only stop to give the pilot a break. If not for its passengers, the solar-powered plane could theoretically fly forever without ever stopping.
The Swiss aircraft is outfitted with 17,200 solar cells, which are able to convert more than 22 percent of the solar energy they collect into electricity to power the plane’s four propellers. At 72 meters, the wing span is bigger than that of a Boeing 747 jet.
Project founders, Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg, plan to complete a round-the-world journey in the plane next year. The two will do some pre-flight practice starting in January before they take off from Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates in March 2015.