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Group read, energy, week 4. Will solar energy let us fly to the sun in winter?

About the author

Tony Curzon Price was Editor-in-Chief of openDemocracy from 2007 to 2012, where he is now contributing editor and technical director. He blogs at

Feb 7 2009. Join the Group Read. Chapters 5 and 6. Flight and Solar

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Will solar energy technologies allow us to sustainably take those long-haul flights to get our winter dose of sunshine? On the way, we discover that flying intecontinentally once per year has an energy cost slightly bigger than leaving a 1 kW electric fire on, non-stop, 24 hours a day, all year, despite the fact that modern planes are twice as fuel-efficient as a single-occupancy car. It may be no surprise, therefore, that Airline businessman Michael O’Leary, CEO of Ryanair, has developed a Swiftian the solution to the problem: " The best thing we can do with environmentalists is shoot them."

Just like to repeat a big thank you to David MacKay who has been very supportive of this project, and to William Sigmund without whose amazing html and perl skills I do not think we would have had an online version to work with.