Solar-Powered Butterfly Hits American Roads

30-foot-long solar-powered butterfly arrives in the US with the message that global warming can be stopped with existing technology.

Rob Spiegel

August 3, 2023

3 Min Read
maxon SolarButterfly

The SolarButterfly is hitting US highways. In July it arrived at the home of corporate sponsor maxon in Taunton, Mass. The solar-powered tour is touting the power of today’s technology. The message? We can overcome climate change with the clean energy technology that exists right now. The tour arrived in Taunton after wheeling around Europe over the last year.

The solar-powered butterfly is a 30-foot-long tiny house in the shape of a butterfly, which charges the electric vehicle it tows. The tour is focused on alerting people to the companies and individuals that are integral in transitioning societies away from fossil fuels.

The SolarButterfly is on a four-year journey around the world with plans to identify, record, and publicize at least a thousand climate protection pioneers and their solutions. Since the start of the tour on May 23, 2022, in Geneva, the SolarButterfly has traveled more than 17,000 miles and visited 27 European countries. Hundreds of projects have been reviewed, suggesting that global warming can be stopped and that the technology is readily available.

maxon SolarButterfly

Hitting Every Continent

In a statement, the SolarButterfly team noted, “In 2025, a very important thing will happen, first, we will go to Australia, Africa, then South America. It is our goal to be at the 10th anniversary of the Paris Agreement. We aim to be in Brazil where the climate conference is held and to present 1,000 solutions from around the world that can be used to battle climate change.”

Local political leaders and the public attended the SolarButterfly’s arrival in Taunton where guests were able to tour the vehicle. The butterfly house is equipped with a uniquely designed large solar panel array that unfolds into giant butterfly wings. The SolarButterfly was built largely out of Ocean PET—plastic bottles gathered at sea and then processed for reuse. With over 900 square feet of solar panels, the vehicle produces enough energy to travel up to 150 miles per day.

Taunton’s Mayor Welcomes the SolarButterfly

Taunton Mayor Shaunna O’Connell spoke highly of the SolarButterfly project saying, “This is an extraordinary project when you consider the innovative thinking, the scale of the project, the participation, and the many components that had to be put together to make this initiative successful. We are thrilled to welcome the SolarButterfly to Taunton at maxon, a business leader in our community.”

maxon hosted the SolarButterfly and crew on July 28th at its Taunton facility. At the event, maxon CEO Eugen Elmiger said, “Supporting the Solar Butterfly project illustrates our dedication to being responsible to our environment and society around the world. We hope to inspire more people to be climate pioneers and help us find more climate-change solutions.”

Chris Blake, maxon’s USA’s CEO, noted the company’s commitment to the climate change project. “Our Taunton facility was built sustainably from the beginning. We generate all our electricity using solar roof panels. Excess energy gets put back into the grid, but what’s important is that we operate at net-zero electricity. This is true for many of maxon’s locations around the world.”

About the Author(s)

Rob Spiegel

Rob Spiegel serves as a senior editor for Design News. He started with Design News in 2002 as a freelancer and hired on full-time in 2011. He covers automation, manufacturing, 3D printing, robotics, AI, and more.

Prior to Design News, he worked as a senior editor for Electronic News and Ecommerce Business. He has contributed to a wide range of industrial technology publications, including Automation World, Supply Chain Management Review, and Logistics Management. He is the author of six books.

Before covering technology, Rob spent 10 years as publisher and owner of Chile Pepper Magazine, a national consumer food publication.

As well as writing for Design News, Rob also participates in IME shows, webinars, and ebooks.

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