Solar Impulse arrives in Europe, pointing the
way to the future of transportation
Seville, Spain, and Zurich, Switzerland, June 23, 2016 – The pioneering
solar aircraft has completed the first flight of its kind across the Atlantic,
proving that the latest generation of sustainable technologies can enable a
new era of environmentally friendly transport systems and solutions.
Earlier today, Solar Impulse, a groundbreaking solar aircraft, completed a 71-hour transatlantic flight from
New York to Seville in the course of its remarkable round-the-world journey, which began last year in Abu
Dhabi. The airplane relies on the newest generation of solar cells, batteries and lightweight composites to
accomplish the once seemingly impossible task of flying around the globe without consuming any fossil
fuels. The project clearly demonstrates how new technologies are currently opening the door to a new era
of fully sustainable transportation.
One of the aircraft’s two pilots, André Borschberg, remarked, “This aircraft is essentially a flying smart
grid, using the energy collected from renewable sources and then providing it efficiently to users who may
require it at a different period of time from when it was generated.” Solar Impulse, which has a wingspan
greater than a 747 but weighs about as much as an ordinary passenger car, uses a high-capacity lithiumpolymer battery system to permit it to fly through the night as well as in full sunlight.
The project’s other pilot, Bertrand Piccard, who is Solar Impulse’s initiator and chairman, said, “The world
could be much more efficient if all of these technologies were implemented on a wide scale. This is
exactly what our partners at ABB are doing – applying these innovations in a way that the entire world
can use them.”
In fact, Solar Impulse serves as just one strong current example of how advanced technologies are
revolutionizing the world of transportation. ABB’s CEO Ulrich Spiesshofer noted that the company
provides an expanding range of products and solutions that increase the efficiency of transport systems
while reducing their environmental impacts on multiple fronts. “At ABB, we seek to find new ways to run
the world without consuming the earth,” said Spiesshofer.
Regenerative braking systems in electric trains, trams and other vehicles are also contributing to
significant improvements in energy efficiency. ABB’s ENVILINE product portfolio incorporates regenerative
braking and other high-efficiency strategies to reduce energy consumption in direct current rail traction
systems by as much as 30 percent.
Electric buses and other EVs are now becoming much more practical and are rapidly gaining in
acceptance thanks to the development of new fast-charging stations, which can recharge the battery
packs in the latest vehicles in just minutes rather than hours. A new public bus system in Geneva and one
currently under construction in Namur, Belgium, make use of fast-chargers from ABB to provide costefficient zero-emission transport. Urban e-mobility stands to improve air quality and reduce congestion in
city centers around the world.
Recent innovations have been providing more sustainable solutions in marine transport as well. ABB’s
Azipod propulsion systems, which place electric drive motors in submerged pods that extend beneath
the hulls of large ships, deliver dramatic increases in efficiency and maneuverability. The company’s
OCTOPUS solution uses big data, smart sensors and advanced connectivity to provide guidance to ship
operators on the most efficient routes to follow, while also giving warnings of potential hazards.
Solar Impulse represents just the opening stage of a new golden age of environmentally friendly
transportation. “We are seeing huge new opportunities in the field of sustainable transport,” commented
Spiesshofer. “Recent technological developments are opening the way to major advances in energy
efficiency and productivity. We are only just beginning to realize the full potential of these changes.”
More information:
ABB ( is a leading global technology company in power and automation that enables
utility, industry, and transport & infrastructure customers to improve their performance while reducing their
environmental impacts. The ABB Group of companies operates in roughly 100 countries and employs
about 135,000 people.
For more information please contact:
Media Relations
Saswato Das
Affolternstrasse 44
Antonio Ligi, Sandra Wiesner
8050 Zurich
Phone: +41 43 317 65 68
[email protected]

Solar Impulse arrives in Europe, pointing the way to the future