Official: Solar plane to help energy use on ground

Pilots Andre Borschberg, co-founder and CEO, and Dr. Bertrand Piccard, chairman, talk with reporters as the Solar Impulse sits in a specially made hangar tent at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport, Thursday May 23, 2013. The solar plane landed early Thursday at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport after taking off Wednesday from Phoenix. The plane, with a wingspan of 208 feet (as long as a Boeing 747), will be on display Friday and Saturday. (AP Photo/Star-Telegram, Rodger Mallison)
Pilots Andre Borschberg, co-founder and CEO, and Dr. Bertrand Piccard, chairman, talk with reporters as the Solar Impulse sits in a specially made hangar tent at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport, Thursday May 23, 2013. The solar plane landed early Thursday at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport after taking off Wednesday from Phoenix. The plane, with a wingspan of 208 feet (as long as a Boeing 747), will be on display Friday and Saturday. (AP Photo/Star-Telegram, Rodger Mallison)

CHANTILLY, Va. (AP) — The nation’s energy secretary says a solar-powered plane that landed outside Washington early Sunday will one day offer a payoff for people on the ground.

The spindly one-man craft called Solar Impulse has been flying cross-country in short hops as part of a 13-year privately funded European project. U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz praised the effort at a news conference Monday at Dulles International airport where the plane landed.

He said the plane’s cutting-edge technology will improve energy use in cars and buildings by leading to better solar cells and batteries, electric motors, lightweight material and general efficiencies.

The plane, which left St. Louis on Friday, will finish its test flight across America later this month when it files to New York.

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