Andre’ Borschberg and Bertrand Piccard, founders and pilots of Solar Impulse, have founded an important outgrowth of their globe-spanning mission – The World Alliance for Efficient Solutions. With almost 500 members and seeking 1,000 with responsible and profitable solutions the two are working to gain investors in literally saving the world.
Bertrand Piccard sees a current vision of a world that’s out of phase with technological reality. In an editorial, he mused:
“When I was flying with my solar plane over the Atlantic Ocean, I remember looking at the sun that was giving energy to my four electric motors and their huge propellers. There was no noise, no pollution, no fuel… and I could fly forever. At one moment I thought, “This is science fiction, I’m in the future.” And then I realized, “No, it’s completely wrong, I’m in the present. This is what the technologies of today already allow me to do. It’s the rest of the world that is in the past, with old and inefficient devices.”
The answer to this may rankle some, because it relies on investment money, along with altruism, to bring about the changes necessary to fix climate problems, slow the inexorable rise of the oceans, and give us a more hopeful future. Worldwide solutions, though, require enormous sums of money, and therefore, investors capable of making large commitments.
Piccard, a psychiatrist, may realize that calling upon self-interest can make things happen. “I have always said that protection of the environment would become a reality only if it requires no financial or behavioral sacrifices. Who would renounce driving their car or heating their house because of sea levels rising in 20 years’ time? The truth is that today, even if climate change didn’t exist, building clean and efficient infrastructures would make sense.”
The green bond market doubled to almost $83 billion USD after the signature of the 2015 Climate Agreement. That market will grow despite changing political climates, simply because industries and individuals are investing in environmentally sound solutions that make them profitable or save them money. Certainly, recent trends such as a growing disparity between costs of generating electricity with coal or solar and wind are driving the coal industry back into the ground and rapidly increasing the deployment of clean alternatives.
Trends, as shown from a clean energy promoter, could be enticing for Investors, those the World Alliance is hoping will jump in to fund the solutions providers. The Foundation describes these people as those who will have, “Access to a diverse portfolio of cutting-edge Efficient Solutions.”
At the least, the World Alliance hopes to provide opportunities that will appeal to Seekers, who will, ”Gain access to a network of solutions in different sectors and scales to help you reach your environmental objectives in a profitable way.’
This three-fold approach to uniting innovators with investors is a great deal like that of the recent 2017 Hello Tomorrow Global Summit Deep Tech Challenge, which awarded 15,000 euros to an American startup, Ampaire. Many more green aviation startups exist, and if the Alliance can unite visionaries with venture capitalists, the future will be bright, indeed.
Two innovators with the courage to fly day and night and across seemingly boundless oceans at 40 mph also have the courage to overcome skeptics and critics in their new and grand goals. We wish them well in their wonderful endeavor.