How dirty is ‘clean’ fuel…?


Solar Impulse is a solar powered plane that’s in the news right now because it is using only solar power to fly across America, albeit in small hops.

Technologically speaking it is a remarkable feat of engineering but looking at pictures of the craft I have to wonder how much non renewable energy was used to create it. It is after all full of composites, resins, plastics, carbon fiber, metal, electronics and solar cells  (many of which use so called ‘rear earths’) and who knows what else. No doubt it was designed using computers using mostly non renewable energy from the power grid and built in a building lit by the same non renewable energy by parts made by machines powered by yup, you guessed it, non renewable energy. Lets’ add in all the gasoline used to transport the raw materials and parts around the globe so that it could be made and this ‘clean’ aircraft looks remarkably dirty to me.

I’m not decrying what they are trying to achieve, just pointing out that just as with many things, once you look beyond the marketing veneer, things are not always as simple as they seem.


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