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Solar Impulse pilots receive energy prize


Solar Impulse pilots Bertrand Piccard, left, and André Borschberg, right, speaking at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos in 2016 (Keystone)

Solar Impulse pilots Bertrand Piccard, left, and André Borschberg, right, speaking at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos in 2016

(Keystone)

Pioneering pilots André Borschberg and Bertrand Piccard have won the World Solar Prize, awarded by Swiss Solar Agency, for attracting “unmatched international attention” to renewable forms of energy.

The prize is one of 14 Swiss Solar Awards being presented at the OLMA agricultural fair in St Gallen on Tuesday. Every year, Swiss Solar Agency recognises a selection of exemplary buildings, institutions and people for their contributions to solar energy usage and energy-efficient buildings.

Occasionally, Swiss Solar Agency issues a so-called World Solar Prize. Such was the case with the Solar Impulse pilots; the previous “world” prize went to British architect Norman Foster in 2005.

The efforts of Swiss pilots Borschberg and Piccard took them around the world in a solar plane, using rechargeable solar-powered batteries and extremely light materials.

On July 26, 2016, the record-breaking Solar Impulse 2 landed in Abu Dhabi, from where it had taken off on March 9, 2015. With stops in 17 destinations, it managed to cover almost 43,000km without a single drop of jet fuel.

The pilots themselves demonstrated extreme endurance by remaining in the cockpit for days on end. The feat enabled Piccard and Borschberg to highlight the possibilities of clean technologies and renewable forms of energy.

“Solar Impulse 2 sparked unique, unmatched international attention for renewable energies, solar energy and clean technologies,” said Swiss Solar Agency in a statement. Already in 2010, the duo won the agency’s Swiss and European prizes.

The Swiss Solar Award was launched in 1991 by former Swiss Environment Minister Adolf Ogi and the Federal Office of Energy, together with the Swiss Solar Agency. Since then, 371 people and institutions have received a Swiss Solar Award.

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