Solar Impulse crew member reflects on historic flight

Emirati Solar Impulse crew member, Hasan Redaini, reflects on historic flight.

Hasan Al Redaini, right, who travelled with the Solar Impulse team. Twitter
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ABU DHABI // It’s been a while since I’ve come back from what I call my lifetime experience. Hovering across different locations with Solar Impulse, to promote and demonstrate the far reach of renewable energy while carrying the torch of innovation in the 21st century.

During my travels, I was exposed to aspects that weren’t immediately apparent to me. I didn’t connect the dots to form that bigger picture. Gradually during the trip, and as I gained more exposure to the industry, it allowed me to join these dots together and create a renewable energy map that sums up my Solar Impulse expedition.

Why take off from Abu Dhabi? Well, there must be a compelling reason other than sunlight?” I get asked this question a lot. Abu Dhabi is home to Masdar, an organization that is a 10 years “young”, yet their expertise, accomplishments, vision and, most importantly people, is what makes this company exceptional.

After my return, breathing renewable energy, I got a thing for Masdar.

Masdar has proven its accomplishments with projects spanning across the seas, from the UK, to Seychelles and diving into the Pacific Islands. Within the Masdar cluster is Masdar City, the heart of clean energy and innovation, harboring Masdar Institute, with 06 US patents, and IRENA.

Therefore, I’m pinning Abu Dhabi as the hub of renewable energy.

The next continental stop on the Solar Impulse journey was India.

India was looking forward for the arrival of Solar Impulse. The interest garnered from the officials, townspeople and visitors was never seen in any other destination. Students on the other hand, were the ones stirring up unexpected questions—so unexpected, engineers had to step in and respond.

In recent years, India harvested their own technologies and set ambitious goals. A few examples would be aiming to have a fully-fledged airport functioning solely on solar energy, and luring in billions of foreign renewable energy investments. They’ve also launched plans to develop a solar train, inspired by Solar Impulse, a ripple effect of innovation beyond borders. This on its own marks India as a strong endorser of renewable energy

Crossing over to the Far East, China was expecting us.

The world is where it is due to the strides China has taken on the global agenda of renewable energy’s efforts. Over the past 20 years, China has proven itself as an engine of mass production for a wide range of merchandise - solar panels and wind turbines are no exception to that.

I myself am amazed to these efforts, which made this technology financially viable and, more importantly, accessible.

China has a vital role in the global supply chain of the renewable energy industry and I believe it will continue to do so for the years to come. Hence why I have pinned the Far East as the mass producer and facilitator of affordable renewable energy, on both a consumer and corporate front.

And finally, we arrived at the pinnacle of our journey, crossing the Pacific ocean, and landing in Hawaii.

This last part of the journey was extremely stressful for the team. I wish I could voice out the pilot’s feelings for those five days however, legendary feats are best described by legends.

Hawaii was beyond what I imagined. The government’s endorsement for green technology is second to none, aiming to be 100% renewable by 2045. I can’t recall passing a town and not finding at least a couple of houses with rooftop solar installation. Their tax incentives supporting the cause to go green is a model to be followed.

The townsfolk were also advocates of green energy. When speaking to a local, I quote: “Oh you work for the solar plane? I dig the whole green energy stuff”.

Hawaii was the perfect temporary stop to my map. In my opinion, it was the golden medal for the realization of technologies and innovative application of renewable energy.

What’s next? Climate change negotiations are coming up in December in France, which I’m very privileged to be a part of. I look forward to COP21 and much more to the international agreements that will come to be.