Morocco: Solar-Powered Plane’s Arrival Boosts Solar Energy Industry

Posted June 6th, 2012 at 1:10 am (UTC-5)
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Morocco has praised the arrival of a solar-powered plane that flew from Madrid, Spain, to Rabat, marking the world's first intercontinental flight by a manned aircraft operating without liquid fuel.

The Solar Impulse plane completed the 830 kilometer journey late Tuesday, landing at Rabat's international airport after taking off from the Spanish capital 19 hours earlier. The plane's lone pilot, Swiss adventurer Bertrand Piccard, smiled as he emerged from the small cockpit to be greeted by members of his team and Moroccan authorities.

He said the plane's crossing of the Gibraltar straight separating Europe and Africa was a “magical moment” that represents one of the “highlights” of his career.

Organizers chose Morocco as the destination for the unprecedented flight to highlight the North African nation's plan to build the world's largest solar power plant. The head of the Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy Mustafa Bakkoury welcomed Piccard at the airport and said Morocco shares the pilot's message about the importance of renewable energy.

“Solar energy is no longer restricted to the scientific world but is become an (integral) part of daily life,” Bakkoury said.

He said Morocco plans to start building the solar power plant in the south-central city of Ouarzazate in 2014. The plant is part of a Moroccan effort to reduce the nation's dependence on fossil fuels and produce 2,000 megawatts of solar energy, by 2020.