ABB

Solar Impulse Inspires as it Blazes New Frontiers

(3BL Media/Justmeans) - As if there wasn't  enough to see here already at Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, the area was blessed with the appearance of a rare migrating bird, the Solar Impulse, resting up in preparation for a historic journey of truly epic proportions.
The two Swiss pilots, and founders of Solar Impulse, Bertrand Piccard, and Andre Borschberg are getting ready to set out to do what no one has ever done before—to fly around the world, covering 21,000 miles in a heavier than air craft, without using a single drop of fuel, relying entirely on the power of the sun. The plane will fly both day and night using energy stored in batteries to sustain power at night till the sun reappears each morning.
The plane, the Si2, is the second iteration of the Solar Impulse. Its wings, which extend 236 feet, longer than those of a Boeing 747, will be covered with 17,248 monocrystalline silicon solar cells that will provide the power. These cells were specifically developed for this craft, being extra-light, extra-thin (135 microns), highly efficient (23%) and capable of withstanding the necessary extremes in temperature that they will likely encounter.
While the plane is as large as a jumbo jet. it weighs little more than a family car (5,070 pounds), itself a miracle of space age materials. The four electric motors can produce a total of 70 HP, allowing the craft to putter along at a leisurely pace of about 20 miles per hour. This lean operation allows the craft to store enough energy to stay aloft through the night, meaning it could stay aloft indefinitely were it not for the fact that the pilots need to come down for food and drink.
Coming down for a pit stop, is in fact, the only way the pilots can change places since the quarters are so tight they can't switch with the cockpit closed. Each man, will typically be at the helm for 20 consecutive hours, the typical length of each leg.

Electric Cars Get A Jump Start in China

Anyone concerned about the planet's future and our ability to bring our climate-disrupting emissions under control, can't help but regularly steal nervous glances at China. What China, with its massive population and prodigious growth rate does or doesn't do, will have a significant impact on all of us. So when China said they wanted 500,000 "new energy vehicles” on the road by next year and five million by 2020, many of which would be driven by first time car buyers newly entering the middle class, that gave us reason to be hopeful. Many have been skeptical that such numbers could be achieved. Especially since last year, only 17,600 EVs were sold. Today, there are approximately 50,000 of them on the road.

But a number of recent developments could be turning up the heat.

First, Chinese EV-maker BYD, which is partially backed by Warren Buffett, has been selling most of their cars in their home city of Shenzhen. Earlier this week, they gained approval to begin selling in Beijing with its population of 11.5 million. Beijing officials will provide a subsidy for EVs and they also commit to installing 100 charging stations in the city by the end of the year with roughly ten charging units per station. This roughly coincides with Swiss electrical equipment-maker ABB's announcement that it would begin making and marketing wall-mounted home electric vehicle chargers in China. The chargers are being developed for Denza, a new joint venture between BYD and Daimler.

Says Chunyuan Gu, ABB's top man in China, "Either you believe or you don't believe. What's difficult to predict is how fast the volume will come."

BYD also received approval this week to sell its plug-in hybrid, the Qin, in Shanghai

China's fast growing car market is attracting the attention of automakers around the globe. Last year 22 million cars were sold there, compared with 15.6 million in the US. Major problems like air pollution and gridlock are leading local officials to tighten restrictions on new drivers' licenses, which will slow the pace of growth. Electric cars, which don't contribute to air pollution are getting a warmer reception.

Some people believe that were are approaching a point of “peak cars” altogether, but that is clearly still a ways off in China.

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