Skip to main content

Bertrand Piccard is the founder of the Solar Impulse Foundation. In 2016, he completed the first ever
circumnavigation of the globe in a solar-powered airplane. He is now developing collaborations with political and economic decision-makers to give them practical solutions for achieving clean economic growth. His goal
is to select 1000 solutions that can protect the environment in a profitable way and present them to decision-makers to fast-track their implementation.
1. To what extent does the COVID-19 crisis offer us a chance to build a circular, sustainable, and highly competitive economy?
Of course, these times are challenging as we are facing a major economic crisis, theamplitude of which is still unclear.But there are also immense opportunities coming out of this crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed many weaknesses of our world: a fragile and inefficienteconomy, creating in equalities and a huge amount of pollution. This means there are thousands of opportunities for entrepreneurs to build new business models,
new ways of producing and consuming, new systems, technologies, and processes. All of which must combine financial viability and protection of the environment. Because of COVID-19, we take less for granted. Life on autopilot has been disrupted, and the whispers are growing about a new path forward – letting go of the old ways of thinking. If ever there’s a right time to create a circular, sustainable, and highly competitive economy, it is now.
In fact, if we don’t act now, we probably never will, and if we don’t embrace sustainability as an economic path, we won’t last on this planet because we will run out of resources. It’s that simple.
2. As the President of Solar Impulse, you flew around the world in a solar-powered aircraft.
Were there useful insights for the aeronautics sector and how it can better capitalize on energy efficiency?
Of course, Solar Impulse, by achieving the first ever round-theworld solar flight, was a source of inspiration for the aeronautics sector at an innovation level. The light weight of the carbon fibers we used, the energy density
of our batteries, the energy efficiency of our solar cells, and the efficiency of our engine…All of these were phenomenal.

But I think, more than the technological feat, the most important message of Solar Impulse was to show that nothing is impossible. People laughed at me when I first imagined a solarpowered aircraft. But by getting
rid of our certitudes and our old ways of thinking, by pushing the boundaries and the limits, we made it a reality. And that’s something crucial for an industry that is constantly criticized. So if today, some people say that the aeronautic industry will never manage to be clean and sustainable or recover from this crisis, I think they’re completely wrong. At the Solar Impulse Foundation we’re identifying different tracks on the path to energy efficiency for the aeronautic sector. Not only with new technologies, but also with more modern procedures, on
the ground and in the air.

3. Energy efficiency is an essential, clean, and profitable solution for economic recovery.
How can we expand upon its potential?
Our world has been until now, a world of waste, wasting between 50 and 75% of the energy and the food we produce, as well as the natural resources we extract. This is why for me the argument for energy efficiency is logical even more than ecological. It’s the fact that we’re going to create even more jobs and make a lot of profit
to implement the technologies that are going to help us to save energy, food, and natural resources. The financial argument is therefore the argument we have to put forward each time we speak with politicians and corporate leaders rather than only focusing on the benefits on the environment.

Bertrand Piccard
Initiator and Chairman, Solar Impulse Foundation

Leave a Reply