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Solar Impulse flies over Gemasolar

Solar Impulse II flies over Gemasolar.  Amalie Decloux |Jean Revillard.

Solar Impulse II flies over Gemasolar. Amalie Decloux |Jean Revillard.

The plane Solar Impulse II took exactly 505 days to fly around the world, in a challenge that began in Abu Dhabi in March 2015 and ended with the plane landing in the same city almost a year and a half later. Its journey of over 40,000 km divided into 17 stages saw the plane fly over the world’s most groundbreaking solar plant, Gemasolar.

This facility –which is owned by Torresol Energy, a joint venture between the engineering and construction group SENER and Masdar– is a pioneer in the commercial-scale use of central tower technology with a molten salt storage system. This system allows Gemasolar to continue producing electricity for 15 hours without solar radiation, which means it does not stop generating power and can thus respond to grid demand, solving one of the traditional weak points of renewable energies. The plant has become a benchmark for the renewable energies sector, having been acknowledged with various international awards.

Gemasolar was photographed from the fuel-less aircraft Solar Impulse, which landed in Seville in July, days after completing its historic milestone of flying around the planet without using fossil fuels. Soon after taking off from Seville en route to Cairo, Egypt, Solar Impulse flew over the solar plant to record its emblematic image in a series of spectacular pictures. In order to showcase the possibilities of solar power, the plane made the first flight around the world with solar energy, reaching speeds of 45-55 kmph and an altitude of 8,500 m.

Solar Impulse’s interest in Gemasolar, another global symbol of sustainability, is part of the shared goal of these two innovative projects: to promote the use of solar power across the planet. In fact, both systems are revolutionary in that they can both store solar power and continue operating without interruptions thanks to their storage capacity.

After flying over Oman, India, Myanmar, China, Japan, and the United States, Solar Impulse reached Spain to grace the skies over Gemasolar and thus merge the two top-level clean technologies together in a single picture.

Upon seeing the spectacular images Solar Impulse took of Gemasolar, the plant’s General Manager, Raúl Mendoza, emphasized ‘the shared spirit of two engineering projects that have surprised the world; two technological milestones powered exclusively by energy from the Sun’. He also added that “Just as Gemasolar did when it entered into commercial operation in 2011, Solar Impulse has also shown the world that we can rely on solar power for our everyday activities. The future will go hand-in-hand with renewable sources, so long as we continue to develop reliable and successful technologies to make this energy an economically competitive option, and therefore a real, sustainable energy alternative to traditional fuels.”

Gallery

Aerial view from Gemasolar plant, owned by Torresol Energy.

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