Sun-powered plane on historic flight

The Swiss solar-powered plane, Solar Impulse, touched down to a warm welcome in Rabat, Morocco last night, flying from Madrid in the second leg of its record-breaking 2,500km intercontinental flight from Switzerland to Morocco. 

Mustapha Bakkoury, President, Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy (MASEN), joined in welcoming pilot Bertrand Piccard,  who called the flight over the Strait of Gibraltar "a magical moment" and noted that Solar Impulse made the trip "without one drop of fossil fuel."

The plane is equipped with 12,000 solar cells.

In Morocco, the Solar Impulse team will take part in events highlighting the convergence and capacity of renewable energy technologies, particularly solar power, under the patronage of King Mohammed VI and at the invitation of MASEN, which oversees Morocco's solar energy development. 

The solar-powered flight coincides with the construction launch in southern Morocco of the world's largest solar thermal plant, a World Bank-financed project in Ouarzazate that will harness the Sahara sun to produce 2,000 megawatts of renewable energy for North Africa and Europe.

Ouarzazate is the solar plane's next destination, after a five-day stopover in Rabat.

MASEN's Bakkoury called the Solar Impulse flight important for raising awareness about solar energy's potential to reduce global dependence on oil. "We share a common message with Solar Impulse," he said.

"Solar energy is no longer restricted to the scientific world but is becoming an integral part of our daily lives." He said Morocco will be producing solar energy by 2014, when Solar Impulse plans a round-the-world tour.

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