A Fresh Perspective

Danielle Azimi, a grade 9 student at Toronto French School writes about the solarship and its potential.

The solarship is a phenomenal invention that is eco friendly and compact. There are many aircrafts that have the ability to transport cargo and help complete tasks easier and quicker. However, not all aeroplanes are capable of accessing remote regions and landing in small areas like the solarship does. This creatively designed craft can aid in transporting supplies, monitoring regions inhabited by endangered species, and displaying important messages.

Firstly, the solarship is ideal for transporting supplies because it can land in areas affected by natural disasters and undeveloped regions. For example, the aircraft can deliver food and medical supplies to Somalia and Kenya for the people harmed by the famine crisis, Japan and Haiti for the earthquake, school supplies to countries in poverty. All these countries are in desperate need of supplies to recover from the catastrophe that occurred within the past two years. However, many people have forgotten about these occurrences and are not helping them with their recovery which the solarship can do with a small amount of cargo.

Secondly, the solarship can help monitor regions inhabited by endangered species due to the fact that it is an easily piloted aircraft that is very compact and can land quickly. For example, some endangered animals within Africa are Clarke’s Gazelle or the Ethiopian Wolf. Many people in Africa who live in poverty are instructed to murder endangered species illegally to earn an income for their families to survive. By committing these actions animal species dwindle and soon will become extinct. Monitoring these endangered animals can create employment for people who are forced to hunt these species and preserve them as well.

Finally, the solarship is capable of displaying important messages because it is an aeroplane that attracts people’s attention due to its unique shape. Messages that can be showcased can raise awareness about different issues and special events for charities. For example, an advertisement for the World Wildlife Fund, Red Cross, and charity marathons and walks. Raising awareness about these events through the solarship can aid in attracting people to come join and support these charitable events and foundations.

Clearly, the solarship is a beneficial invention for people around the world. The solarship helps transport supplies, monitor areas occupied by endangered animals, and deliver significant information. By doing the above tasks the solarship can reduce the responsibilities suffered by people on a daily basis. Although there are many aircrafts which can complete one of the above assignments, the solarship is unique due to the fact that it can do all these jobs and it can access undeveloped and isolated locations.

Written by Guest Blogger, Danielle Azimi
August 26, 2013

The Humanitarian Spirit

Laura Bryson, our research coordinator, tells of her experiences here at Solar Ship and offers her perspective on the solarship’s humanitarian applications.

A year ago if you had asked me what post-graduation plans I had in the works, I could have only told you what I hoped for: to be employed at an organization addressing deep-rooted social or environmental issues (ideally both).

During my last semester at McGill I channeled my concern for poverty and the environment into academic inquiry via an independent study I conducted in partnership with McGill Geography’s Professor Navin Ramankutty. Together Navin and I shaped the question that would be the basis of my research: What are the challenges and synergies in addressing the twin grand challenges of fighting poverty and minimizing environmental degradation?

It’s invigorating, eight months later, to be involved at Solar Ship—an organization that strives to effect change in these areas on the ground. Today I write from Solar Ship’s Toronto-based downtown office where I’m delighted to contribute to the self-sustaining thread of thoughtful ingenuity that the Solar Ship team has cultivated since its inception.

Solar Ship is committed to the development of a hybrid solar-powered aircraft that will service remote areas of the world. The final product will include a wing-ship design that provides a large surface area for solar electric power—backed by lithium-ion battery systems—and that permits take-off and landing in spaces as small as a soccer field. Solarships will be invaluable tools in difficult-to-access regions of the world where infrastructure, such as roads and runways, are scarce, and fossil fuels are often unavailable or unaffordable.

Under the leadership of company founder, Jay Godsall, Solar Ship has designed, built and flown three prototypes and we continue to improve the design in preparation for further flights in 2012.The solarship is first and foremost a technology but in application the aircraft will open up a vast scope of humanitarian possibilities, starting with medical relief.

By way of example, solarships could have been enormously helpful to relief and rescue operations in Haiti when that country was struck by a magnitude 7.0 earthquake in January 2010. The city of Jacmel’s airstrip and fueling infrastructure were damaged and roadway access to Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, was shut down; it took eight days for supplies and aid to reach the city of Jacmel.

The suitability of the solarship technology to Jacmel’s disaster scenario prompts me to wonder not if but how the technology will benefit our preparedness for climate change—a phenomenon that is real and consequential, and that serves as a poignant reminder that we cannot let fossil-fuel-powered technology reign over cleaner alternatives.Moreover, as individuals and organizations around the world strive to achieve environmental and social sustainability, there will be no shortage of opportunity for Solar Ship technology to benefit regions that have globally significant biodiversity value and that also harbour some of the most impoverished communities worldwide. For example, in the East African Rift Valley, Lake Tanganyika’s ecological integrity is threatened by human population pressure yet the Lake’s bordering communities remain without adequate access to health care and economic opportunities. In this case, the solarship could serve as a dual-purpose delivery system for medical supplies and ecological monitoring tool to protect Lake Tanganyika from over-fishing and its bordering land area from deforestation.

As Solar Ship technology advances and payload increases, the aircraft could become a substitute for more environmentally degrading modes of transportation that necessitate deforestation. I don’t mean to suggest that technology on its own will solve deeply entrenched social and environmental issues; rather, for integrated conservation-development programs to be successful, the Solar Ship technology will need to go hand in hand with a sincere understanding of local cultural and political contexts. Solar Ship, itself, operates in this humanitarian spirit, pushing the envelope of alternative energy technology, and serving as a microcosmic example of the human-centered activities that traditional for-profit commerce would be right to embrace.

Written By: Laura Bryson
August 1, 2013