COP21, the Congress of Parties 21 – meaning the 21st gathering of nations and organizations working toward an agreement on reducing greenhouse gases, has concluded with what many conclude to be a historic turn from fossil fuels to cleaner, greener means of powering the world’s economy. At a gala “Solutions COP21 – Celebrate the Champions Night” at the Grand Palais on the Champs-Élysées in Paris, leaders in demonstrating clean energy solutions were honored and awarded.
Globe-straddling solar aviation and electric commuter helicopters showed a few of the environmentally conscientious directions aviation has taken.
Eraole, with its first motor run at COP21, is a tandem-winged cruiser that will fly on a combination of solar power and biologically-derived algae fuel driving its single electric motor. The 14 meter wings and large horizontal tail provide space for 43 square meters (462.8 square feet) of 24-percent efficient solar cells. These will be assisted by a range extender powered by “decarbonized” oil.
The airplane will start flight testing in January, with a flight between Long Island, New York and France, with more details to come in this blog.
Solar Impulse did not have its gigantic airplane on view, but Andre’ Borschberg and Bertrand Piccard were highly visible throughout the sessions, with Piccard being named a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP).
As reported by the organization, “UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said: ‘In creating the Solar Impulse Foundation Bertrand Piccard has demonstrated how innovation and clean technologies are crucial to a sustainable future. More than this, he and his fellow pilot André Borschberg have shown we are already living in that future.
“‘When Bertrand’s plane takes off again from Hawaii, people of the world will live the adventure alongside him. As Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Environment Programme, every hour of his flight and preparations will be an opportunity for him and the Solar Impulse team to bring those people closer to a vision UNEP has advocated and supported in our work for many years.’”
“Bertrand Piccard said: ‘This designation is an encouragement to continue showing how many incredible things can be done with renewable energies, but also to implement more energy efficient technologies in our world.’”
To cap years of development, designers, builders and test pilots at e-Volo received the “Climate Champion COP 21” award for their Volocopter, an electric, two-seat commuter hailed as an “environment-friendly mobility concept of the future with which public transport could partially take off” into the third dimension in the near future. “
e-Volo describes the moment and its significance. “Frans Nauta, head of Climate-KIC Netherlands, presented the prize to the managing directors Alex Zosel and Florian Reuter as part of the festive event on the 4th of December. Nauta described the Volocopter as ‘In the process, no transport infrastructure, such as roads, tunnels, or bridges, would have to be built and carbon dioxide emissions would also not increase during flight operation. Therefore, valuable natural landscapes can be preserved. The international award is a special honor for e-volo since it values the efforts of the Karlsruhe startup for mobility that is ecologically acceptable.’”
Another Raphael, Domjan, continues building his SolarStratos, intended to carry passengers into the stratosphere for a mind-boggling ride into the high atmosphere or lower heavens.
Domjan is a sailor, too, having guided Planet Solar, the world’s largest solar powered boat around the world, and lately attempted a solar-powered kayak adventure through the Northwest Passage. Domjan’s team brought The kayaks, a PlanetSolar simulator and movies of all his projects, including SolarStratos to the Grand Palais.
All these participants will continue their efforts and add to the ever-growing number of environmentally friendly project that are changing the face of aviation.