ABB Joins Solar Impulse For First-Ever Round-the-World Flight Powered By The Sun


André Borschberg and Bertrand Piccard beside the cockpit of Solar Impulse 2

André Borschberg and Bertrand Piccard beside the cockpit of Solar Impulse 2

Tomorrow, on April 9th 2014, from 3PM to 5:30PM Swiss Time, the official presentation of the Round-The-World Solar Airplane, “Solar Impulse 2” will be held.  The presentation can be followed live on

This unique machine next year will fly around the globe using just external power from the sun.

“After years of design, complex simulations and test flights with the first prototype, Solar Impulse 2 will be presented to our partners, friends and media before undertaking, in 2015, the ultimate technological and symbolic adventure of flying around the world without fuel, only powered by the sun.”

One of the main partners announced in this project is now ABB, which is aiming to be a global leader in renewables, sustainable transportation and energy efficiency. ABB is now the world’s second-largest supplier of solar inverters and one of the largest suppliers to the wind-power industry. We also know from our EV industry that ABB is one of the largest supplier of DC fast chargers and recently announced it would be building the world’s largest network of new-generation, fast chargers for electric cars in China together with Daimler and BYD’s Denza JV.

Solar Impulse 2 itself weighs about 2,300 kg and has over 17,000 solar cells. To fly at night, the airplane will be using energy stored in a battery pack with energy density of 260 Wh/kg, but don’t ask us what 4×260 Wh/kg means.

Solar Impulse 2

Solar Impulse 2

ABB CEO Ulrich Spiesshofer stated:

“This partnership brings together two Swiss-based global leaders that are passionate about pushing the boundaries of technology and innovation to achieve a better world. We believe in Bertrand’s vision, and we are convinced that by pioneering innovative technologies we will be able to decouple economic growth from energy consumption and environmental impact. Today, ABB is a global leader for solutions to enable energy efficiency, sustainable transportation and renewables and like Solar Impulse we are always challenging the boundaries of what is technologically possible.”

Bertrand Piccard, initiator and chairman of Solar Impulse remarked:

“It was my dream to have ABB as technology partner of Solar Impulse. We have the same goal of improving the world by using energy more efficiently and conserving natural resources.”

Andre Borschberg, Co-Founder and CEO of Solar Impulse adds:

“Solar Impulse and ABB are technology innovators and pioneers. We both want to motivate people to use clean technologies; ABB and Solar Impulse will work together on key technologies like power electronics for our mutual benefit.”

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8 Comments on "ABB Joins Solar Impulse For First-Ever Round-the-World Flight Powered By The Sun"

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My guesstimate would be that they want to emphasize that they use 4 batteries, for each motor one.
I would love to know availability and prices of batteries and solar panels for normal customers.

Well I’m sure the solar panels used on this plane are very expensive high-efficiency panels and the batteries are very expensive high-energy density batteries that are not used in normal applications.

The batteries and panels we use now in normal applications used to be very expensive high-efficiency devices. 🙂

Yay for progress!

Good article Mark.
Thx I like the solar impulse.

Yet another useless solar crap.

Oh, come one! Go and chase a surprise mouse or something. :p

Electrifying air transportation is really exciting! As with ground transportation it cannot happen soon enough.

Useless? With a solar PV airplane, you might be able to make a drone that can fly for months at a time since it doesn’t need to refuel. That is hardly useless. You could set up great internet service & cellphone service that way.

Yes that is exactly what Mark Zuckerberg is planning for Facebook.
On a more obvious use there is also the possibility to use such a plane to fly on Venus at 54 km of altitude where the temperature is 20°C. You can fly permanently non stop.
Perhaps there is a possibility to fly on Mars but that would be a trickier with an almost vacuum, cryogenic temperatures and much less sun.