WASHINGTON, DC – In recognition of the first ever intercontinental flight by a solar-powered airplane – as well as its historic flight across the United States – the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) presented its 2013 Innovators-of-the-Year Award to Dr. Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg, co-founders and co-pilots of Solar Impulse.
The presentation was made today during a press conference at the National Air and Space Museum at Dulles Airport, which was attended by U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and Swiss Ambassador Manuel Sager.
Solar Impulse arrived in the nation’s capital following a highly-publicized journey across the United States. Considered the most advanced solar aircraft in the world, Solar Impulse is the first airplane ever to fly day and night without fuel or polluting emissions. With its 12,000 silicon solar cells – designed, developed and manufactured by SEIA member SunPower of San Jose, CA – Solar Impulse is also equipped with state-of-the-art batteries that store power, allowing it to fly around-the-clock – something which has never been done before. In 2015, Solar Impulse will try to become the first solar plane to fly around the world.
In presenting the 2013 Innovators-of-the-Year Award, SEIA President & CEO Rhone Resch told the winners, “Someone once said: ‘Your vocation in life is where your greatest joy meets the world’s greatest need.’ Without question, Dr. Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borshberg are living proof of that. Today, we are here to congratulate these two great adventurers in making both solar and aviation history. They are deserving winners of SEIA’s top innovation award for 2013.”
Dr. Piccard and Borschberg said they were honored to receive SEIA’s top innovation award, adding: “If we can make a solar airplane fly day and night without fuel, can you imagine how many other incredible things we could do in this world with solar energy?”
Today, solar is one of the fastest-growing industries in the United States, providing good-paying jobs for nearly 120,000 Americans at more than 5,600 companies, many of them small businesses. There is now more than 8,500 MW of cumulative solar electric capacity in the United States – enough to power 1.3 million American homes. What’s more, in the first quarter of this year, solar accounted for 48 percent of all new electric capacity installed in the U.S.
Established in 1974, the Solar Energy Industries Association® is the national trade association of the U.S. solar energy industry. Through advocacy and education, SEIA and its 1,000 member companies are building a strong solar industry to power America. As the voice of the industry, SEIA works to make solar a mainstream and significant energy source by expanding markets, removing market barriers, strengthening the industry and educating the public on the benefits of solar energy. www.seia.org
About Solar Impulse:
Swiss pioneers Bertrand Piccard (Chairman) and André Borschberg (CEO) are the founders, pilots and the driving force behind Solar Impulse, the first airplane that can fly day and night without fuel or polluting emissions. Solar Impulse is a unique adventure that aims to bring emotions back at the heart of scientific exploration, a flying laboratory to find innovative technological solutions for today’s challenges and a vision to inspire each of us to be pioneers in our everyday lives.
This revolutionary carbon fibre airplane has the wingspan of a Boeing 747 (63.4m / 208 feet) and the weight of a small car (1,600kg / 3,527 lbs.). It is the result of seven years of intense work, calculations, simulations and tests by a team of about 80 people and 100 partners and advisors. A plane so big and light has never been built before. The 12,000 solar cells built into the wing provide four 10HP electric motors with renewable energy. By day the solar cells recharge the 400kg / 881 lbs. lithium batteries which allow the plane to fly at night.