For decades, cleantech has engaged in a slogging uphill battle. Renewable energy, arguably the most disruptive technology in the marketplace, poses a clear threat to status quo fossil fuels industries that supply us with the vast majority of our power. As such, the oil, gas and coal industries have worked hard to paint clean energy as a silly hippie daydream. They have funded skeptical think tanks and used their resources to influence and appeal to conservative politicians and opinionators.
As a result, conventional wisdom in U.S. popular culture says clean energy is still a pipe dream. Wind and solar "aren't there yet", electric cars are weird and unreliable, and without coal, gas and oil, why, the lights would up and go off in much of the country! None of that is true, of course, but the American public has been inculcated to believe such boilerplate after years of naysaying 'industry leaders' and dismissive op-eds and so on. Which is why, when something like Solyndra happens, the sufficiently indoctrinated press eats it up and affirms its biases.
I know, I know, you saw the headline, and were promised cool solar airplane footage. But all of the above is why a stunt like the one depicted in this short video below is so important. Headline-making stunts, like launching a solar-powered plane that can fly even at night, showcase the latent power of clean energy can break through all that saturated dogma and rearrange prejudices more powerfully than a hundred pro-oil talking heads on Fox News.
The Solar Impulse is an experimental jet that will attempt to fly around the world, nonstop, with 100% solar power, in 2014. The good folks at Motherboard put together a nice documentary about the project. Check it out: