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The Less-Discussed Story Behind Solar Impulse

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By Daniel Bangser, Director of Investment Promotion in the U.S. for the Swiss government’s trade and investment agency Switzerland Global Enterprise

While many have heard about the amazing achievements by Solar Impulse, the story behind the flights are not as well known.  

In 2015, pilot André Borschberg recorded the longest solo flight without using fuel, with a total flight time of 117 hours and 52 minutes. The nonstop flight from Japan to Hawaii took almost five days and five nights over open ocean using only solar energy.

Despite suffering a setback with the batteries overheating, the Solar Impulse team is unfazed in their quest to fly around the world using only clean energy. This year, they plan to fly from Hawaii to Arizona before continuing on to Abu Dhabi, which will complete their round-the-world tour. This tremendous accomplishment has brought attention to entrepreneurial ingenuity as well as the importance of clean technology — all areas supported by the group’s home country, Switzerland.

The alpine country has invested heavily in clean technology and fosters the entrepreneurial spirit with a focus on technology startups. The country actively works to encourage innovation and has built its infrastructure to promote and sustain ingenuity. This focus can be seen in multiple innovation rankings over the past years, such as the Innovation Union Scoreboard and the Global Innovation Index.

Solar Impulse received support from the Swiss Confederation as well as from several leading Swiss companies who provided not only financial support, but also used their expertise and technical innovations to help ensure the success of the project.

Solar Impulse is currently the most publicized Swiss project on the global stage when it comes to renewable energy, but many other initiatives launched in Switzerland are making significant progress as well. Beyond supporting Solar Impulse, the Swiss Confederation is playing a leading role in the sector around the world by pushing for the protection of limited natural resources, responsible management of water resources, and the implementation of widespread waste recycling programs. Good stewardship of natural resources and the use of innovative, sustainable architectural concepts are tightly woven into the fabric of the country’s DNA.

This post was written by Daniel Bangser, Director of U.S. Investment Promotion for Switzerland Global Enterprise, and was generously supported by Switzerland Global.

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