In the July 2017 issue of Flying, which can be instantly downloaded for free through the ValueMags website, Peter Garrison writes about a tragic accident as part of a regular feature called “Aftermath.” In this issue, Garrison analyzes the accident of a pilot flying his daughter and her friend to Florida for Spring Break. Although there were many factors at play, Garrison writes that one of the biggest causes of the accident that killed the pilot and his daughter and severely injured the friend, was the lack of fuel.

However, in a different portion of the magazine, a small, seemingly-unrelated blurb discusses another topic that is very relevant to this story and could make an accident like this much less likely. Flying writes, “A Swiss aircraft builder thinks the answer to the age-old problem of running short of fuel is simply to switch to an unlimited power supply.” And what is this seemingly-impossible unlimited power supply? The sun.

To some, solar power may still seem like an idea of the distant future, as it has felt for quite some time. However, what may not be apparent is how quickly the solar power market is growing and how soon conveniences like a solar-powered plane could come into our lives.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, solar power demand is at an all-time high in the United States. The Department of Energy writes that over the past eight years, the amount of solar power installed in the U.S. has increased 23 times, which is enough to power 5.4 million American homes.

While the growth of solar power in the United States is impressive, affordability has been one of the biggest obstacles for solar power’s success. However, the Department of Energy states that solar power technology is increasingly becoming more affordable with many companies working to make this trend continue so that everyday consumers will one day be able to afford it.

Many people still wonder about solar power in relation to other forms of energy, mainly fossil fuels. Solar power is much more reliable and abundant since fossil fuels are a finite resource. For example, the Department of Energy reports, “Solar energy is the most abundant energy resource on earth — 173,000 terawatts of solar energy strikes the Earth continuously. That’s more than 10,000 times the world’s total energy use.” In short, we do not have to worry about running out of energy when it comes to solar power.

If solar power’s reliability is not enough to exhibit the potential that comes with it, then it may be helpful to consider what solar energy does for the job market. Forbes recently reported that, in 2016, more people were employed in the solar power industry than the coal, gas, and oil energy industries combined. Similarly, Forbes says that “…solar power employed 43 percent of the Electric Power Generation sector’s workforce in 2016, while fossil fuels combined accounted for just 22 percent.” This demonstrates the potential benefits solar power has on the economy and the job market, as well.

For more on all things aviation and to read the details of the solar-powered plane, check out the free 12-issue digital subscription to Flying from ValueMags. If you are receiving a magazine from ValueMags that you no longer wish to receive, please visit or email us at [email protected].