Conquering the Desert on Solar Power

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

André Borschberg dodged thunderstorms, overflew the Atlas Mountains, and made his way from Quarzazate to Rabat, Morocco, reversing the course he took last week to the interior of this desert country. While there, he had a week of celebrations and ceremonial gatherings in honor of what will be the world’s largest solar-thermal power plant.  The presence of Solar Impulse, the gigantic, sun-borne aircraft undoubtedly served as a reminder of what such technology can accomplish. Taking off at 7:33 a. m. local time from Quarzazate, Borschberg held course toward Marrakesh on the coast.  Afternoon brought thunderstorms, heavy winds, and thermals.  To avoid a landing in such conditions, the pilot flew a holding pattern between Marrakesh and Rabat and waited for sunset.  …

Solar Impulse Lands in Desert at Night

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

But that’s a good thing, because it was on a nice runway with landing lights to help guide it down.  On June 22, at 25 minutes after midnight, local time, André Borschberg touched down at Quarzazate, the site of Morocco’s huge new solar generating plant.  Its second attempt at reaching this destination, Solar Impulse was flown through mid-day turbulence and shifting winds, but did not turn back as it had on the first attempt the week before. The project’s press release provides an outline of the flight.  “The Solar Impulse airplane took-off this morning at 07:05 (UTC+1) from Rabat-Salé. After flying in the direction of Casablanca, the HB-SIA made its way inland towards Marrakesh, avoiding the Atlas Mountains, and flying …

On From Rabat – Solar Impulse Explores Morocco

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

Solar Impulse took off from Rabat-Sale’ Airport this morning 08:07 a. m. local time, heading over Casablanca and Marrakesh on its way south to Quarzazate, where it is expected to land at 00:30 a. m. local time.   Considering early ground speeds under 15 kilometers per hour (about 9 miles per hour), headwinds are a major constraint.  Turbulence may also cause difficulties, the area having an average daily temperature in the high 90s and low 100s Fahrenheit. Quarzazate is a high desert city whose name in Arabic means “noiselessly,” probably reflecting the vast stillness of the surround desert.  Home to Atlas film studios, one of the largest in world, and setting, along with the desert and Atlas Mountains, for films such …

Solar Impulse Crosses Mediterranean, Joins Continents

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Waking up in the middle of the David Letterman show this morning, your editor stumbled into the computer room to check on the Solar Impulse trip to Morocco.  From the live Google Earth map shown on their web site, and the inset live video of Bertrand Piccard, all was well, and the giant solar-powered craft was sailing over surprisingly irregular terrain.  It just wasn’t the expected flat, featureless desert seen in countless films. Solar Impulse was probably still flying over Spain at that time, having taken off at 3:22 a. m. local time (5:22 coordinated universal time or Greenwich time) from Madrid’s Barajas Airport.    At 7:30 a. m. local time (Pacific Daylight Time – 4:30 UTC), Bertrand Piccard was crossing the narrow …

Dropping Into Madrid

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Solar Impulse HB-SIA, flown by project CEO Andre Borschberg, crossed the border into Spain after flying over mountainous terrain for over 17 hours on the first leg of its Payerne, Madrid, Rabat trip.  During the flight, the prototype crossed from Switzerland into France at an altitude of 3,600 meters (11,800 feet) The project’s blog explains, “The Solar Impulse airplane took-off this morning at 08h24AM (UTC+2) from Payerne aerodrome in Switzerland following the previously scheduled flight plan over the Pyrenees. The aircraft flew over the Massif Central towards the city of Toulouse (France), flying over the Pyrenees mountain range at an altitude of 7’833 meters (25,699 feet) and finally arriving in Spain, landing on Runway 33L.”  The airplane managed the 1,191 …