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Swiss solar plane preps for Brussels flight

A Swiss solar-powered aircraft is set to fly to Brussels as early as next week in what would be its first international flight, the project manager said on Thursday.

Swiss solar plane preps for Brussels flight
MATTH1/Wikipedia (File)

Switzerland’s solar-powered aircraft is expected to attempt its first international flight as early as next week to Brussels, the team managing the project said on Thursday.

“Solar Impulse, the zero fuel airplane, will attempt to fly to Brussels Airport as the destination for its first international flight,” said the team in a statement.

“The airplane will be ready for take-off as from 2 May 2011 and will depart just as soon as the weather permits,” it added.

Solar Impulse made history in July 2010 as the first manned plane to fly around the clock on the sun’s energy.

But an international flight involving a foreign airport will be a “big technical challenge,” acknowledged the team.

Months of preparations have gone into planning and training for the task, and an entire team of experts, including meteorological specialists, route planners, air traffic controllers, engineers and IT specialists have been roped in.

“Flying an aircraft like Solar Impulse through European airspace to land at an international airport is an incredible challenge for all of us, and success depends on the support we receive from all the authorities concerned,” said Andre Borschberg, who piloted July’s flight.

For members

ENERGY

How can you save on your household energy bills in Switzerland?

Like almost everything else in Switzerland, the price of electricity is high here. These are some strategies for reducing your energy costs.

There are several strategies to lower energy costs in Switzerland.
Installing solar panels on the roof could save on energy costs in the long term, but there are other ways as well to reduce bills. Photo by Vivint Solar from Pexels

If you are a tenant, your energy consumption costs may be included in your rent. But if you are a home or apartment owner, you have to pay these charges yourself. And they can be quite expensive.

Depending on the kind and size of dwelling you live in, your energy bills could add up to several thousand francs each year.

And winters in Switzerland can get quite cold, with temperatures dropping to minus 30 degrees in some parts of the country on certain years.

READ MORE: Switzerland weather: Snow and rain forecast in various regions

So unless you are lucky enough to have a wood-burning fireplace which radiates heat throughout your house, sitting under the blanket and drinking hot cocoa may not be enough to keep you warm on those chilly winter days — though it does sound very cosy.

Most people will probably crank up their heat, and as many Swiss households use electric power for heat, that may get quite expensive.

In fact, a household in Switzerland spends on average between a half and full monthly salary on its energy consumption each year, according to a price comparison site bonus.ch.

However, “with small, simple actions to perform on a daily basis, it is possible to reduce energy consumption and save money, without sacrificing comfort”.Bonus.ch said.

Here are some common-sense energy-saving measures the site outlines to keep electricity bills down: 

  • Use heat in moderation, setting the temperature according to the size of the room and how often it is being used. Unoccupied rooms should not be heated at all.
  • Turn off the light when leaving a room (this advice is logical and reasonable, and yet many people neglect to do so).
  • Shut down electrical appliances such as TV and computers completely when not in use,  or even unplug them altogether.
  • Use appliances with the energy label “A”, LED lamps and energy-saving bulbs, avoiding devices with high energy consumption, such as aquariums and fan heaters.
  • In terms of water consumption, typically a resident of Switzerland uses a little more than 160 litres of water daily, of which around one-third is hot, according to bonus.ch.

To reduce hot water consumption, take (quick) showers rather than baths, use water-saving shower heads, and keep its temperature at no more than 50 degrees Celsius.

What about solar panels?

Solar panels are expensive upfront; the actual cost is determined by the size of your house and roof, as well as subsidies you can get from the government. However, it is likely to save you money in the long term.

Just how much will depend on several factors, including how large / small your house is and what your energy needs and consumption are.

You can see whether this option would be economically beneficial to you by using a calculator on this platform for homeowners in Switzerland.

READ MORE: Cost of living: The most – and least – expensive cantons in Switzerland

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