Okay, I get it. You can circumvent around the globe (albeit with many halts) using solar energy. Super wide wing span and room for just two with no air conditioning and pressurization; you’ve really made it a point that it is a definitely NOT an alternative to our jets. Then what is the idea.
We humans are spoiled with our need to travel and we will only have more pressing needs as we move on. With limited fossil fuels reserves, we’ll see air travel becoming more and more expensive. Think about the time when there is no jet fuel available to pump into jumbo jets large fuel tanks. It is definitely not a very pretty scene.
This is the place where, I predict, the pricing will increase at triple digits compounded year-on-year. When this happens, the price of traveling will be so expensive that only the elite few can fly economy class. Generally, it’ll become rare – if not impossible – to fly and the most of the planes will be grounded.
Here comes the SUN.
Like always, sun comes to the rescue. My question is, is it powerful enough to replace conventional jet engines?
I have many reasons to believe that it’ll not.
1.Theoratical maximum efficiency of PV modules is about 45%. Meaning, if the current cells with 20% eff were replaced with the hgihest efficient cells, you will have about twice the power. Meaning, twice the total energy.
2.Batteries still remain a main problem. Solar impulse is doing journey mainly during day time as it has very limited storage. Even if we move to the highest possible efficient storage, the weight will still remain concern.
3. The current design is a very basic and frankly very ambitious design suited only for the iron heart travelers. It’ll need to have all the frills that a normal passenger needs in order to make it travellable. If a person who is going to pay through his skin to air travel, he will expect minimum level of comfort.
To sum it up, air travel days are limited. My suggestion, go out and take a world tour!
So, whats the substitute. I think high speed land travel is a definite. We’ll see high speed rail links criss cross lands and oceans. That is a definite possibility.