In terms of speed, the story of the Solar Impulse 2 traveling around the world doesn’t sound particularly impressive. It took off from Abu Dhabi more than a year ago. Traveling at about 46 miles per hour — slower than a car — it took 70 hours to cross the Atlantic Ocean and 118 hours to cross the Pacific Ocean.
But for the solo-seated plane, powered by energy generated from 17,248 solar cells, it wasn’t about getting to the destination — it was about the journey.
Over the course of its 26,718-mile trip, the Solar Impulse 2 stopped in 17 cities and was followed by the media every step of the way. As many saw it, Solar Impulse 2 was a global demonstration of the potential of renewable energy.
Although the prospect of a solar-powered commercial flight isn’t likely — at least in this lifetime — analysts say that the Solar Impulse 2 is just one of many renewable energy-powered achievements that are inspiring major changes, such as aviation companies switching to renewable fuels and government agencies investing in solar and wind projects.
Chemical companies, of course, have been at the forefront of innovating clean energy technologies. In fact, Belgian chemical giant, Solvay, was instrumental in creating materials that helped reduce the weight of the aircraft — a partnership that led to the company’s logo being prominently displayed on the plane.
This week, the Solar Impulse 2 completed its around-the-world trip back in Abu Dhabi. But as the journey shows, the revolution in renewable technologies is still taking off.