Delegates at the Masdar Young Institute at the World Future Energy in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday. Image Credit: Ahmed Kutty/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Partnerships and collaboration provide an integrated energy system that can reduce oil dependence in the UAE and around the world, industry leaders said at the World Future Energy Industry forum, held last on Monday.

Bertrand Piccard, President & Pilot, Solar Impulse, who wanted to prove that people can travel without the use of fuel, presented his experience with solar energy at the beginning of the forum.

While travelling the world in a hybrid helium/hot air balloon that had no propulsion in 1999, Piccard found that the balloon still required large amounts of propane to generate the lift at night.

From that experience, Piccard imagined an aircraft that would take off and climb under its own power, using only solar energy derived from the sun, and stay aloft indefinitely. At night, the aircraft would remain airborne using battery power.

Last year, Piccard unveiled the first no-fuel aircraft that was only solar powered to fly both day and night without fossil fuel or pollution. The HB-SIA, (nicknamed the Solar Impulse) became a symbol of the new technologies and an ambassador of renewable energy.

Experience

During the forum, Piccard spoke about his experience. "A team of 70 people designed, stimulated and developed the plan. We used carbon fibre to run the plane's engine. If the aeroplane was too heavy, if technologies were not updated, and if the pilot didn't know how to fly properly, the plane would have crashed; and that's a symbol of a pioneering spirit. It's not about creating a fuel-free aeroplane, it's about new ways to think and move ahead as a team," said Piccard.

The Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems is also known for achieving a record efficiency of 41.1 per cent for the conversion of sunlight into electricity.

Eicke Weber, Director of Fraunhofer Institute stressed that research and technology development requires government funding and intervention.

"Any country that wants to start increasing their dependence on solar energy needs to invest in aggressive research which must be government-funded. The only virtual unlimited source of renewable energy is solar energy. With a tiny amount of the sun's energy, we can provide a country with all its energy needs, Germany is one of the pioneering countries doing that, Spain has followed and Japan was a pioneer five years ago but gave up the idea and followed a different path," Weber said at the forum.