Taking solar to new heights: ABB joins Solar Impulse for visionary round-the-world journey

A plane that can fly around the world, day and night, powered by no fuel other than solar energy. Can you think of a more inspiring clean-tech dream?

I’m writing from Payerne, Switzerland, at the official unveiling of Solar Impulse’s new 100% solar powered plane that will embark on an iconic round-the-world flight in 2015 after 12 years of development. As ABB gets onboard this mission, we learn what it means to share this dream…

The mission Solar Impulse has set out to achieve through this first-of-a-kind, zero fuel journey certainly goes beyond the conventional. With a wingspan larger than a Jumbo jet, 17,000 photovoltaic cells and the weight of a small van, the solar plane is pushing the boundaries of technology to demonstrate that renewables, specifically solar power, can contribute to a more sustainable world by using energy in an efficient way while minimizing environmental impact.

This vision resonates clearly with ABB’s own: “Power and productivity for a better world”. The company’s heritage and history clearly shows how breakthrough innovation can be transformed into viable, tangible solutions for a better world. The most recent example is the high voltage direct current (HVDC) circuit breaker that enables efficient and reliable integration of renewables into the power grid. This solution made MIT’s list of top 10 technologies of 2013.

ABB and Solar Impulse are both very passionate about renewables, and have continuously demonstrated novel and creative approaches to solving future energy challenges in an innovative way. When it comes to technology, both have made significant contributions to the areas of efficient conversion of renewable energy for consumption as well as energy storage.

Being a global leader in enabling energy efficiency, sustainable transportation and renewables, ABB is convinced of the importance of solar energy as a vehicle that allows the uncoupling of economic growth from environmental impact, and that will play a key role in the energy mix of the future. With a presence in the solar industry dating back to the 1990s, ABB has been long committed to the industry. A clear indication of this is the $1B investment made last year in acquiring the number two solar inverter manufacturer in the world, Power-One.

As the solar plane makes its historic journey around the world, ABB and Solar Impulse will be able to strengthen the case for renewables and to demonstrate that economic growth, progress and quality of life can be maintained and improved with less energy consumption and pollution.
I call that living the dream!

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About the author

Erika Velazquez

Erika Velazquez is the Global Digital Ecosystem Manager for ABB’s Electrification Business. In this role, she is responsible to grow an ecosystem of collaborating partners to create, co-sell, and promote innovative digital solutions. Erika joined ABB in 2010 and has held different roles with increasing responsibility in market development, product management and marketing of renewable energies, microgrids and grid edge technologies. Erika holds a Mechanical and Electrical Engineering degree from Tecnologico de Monterrey (Mexico), a MSc in Sustainable Energy Futures from Imperial College London and has completed executive management training at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. She enjoys playing the piano, travel, photography, hiking and gardening.
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