(CNN) -- Where better to start a record-breaking solar powered flight than the desert?
The UAE may be one of the most oil dependent states in the world, but next March it will be the start and finish location for Solar Impulse 2, a solar-powered plane that aims to circumnavigate the world using only the power of the sun.
The Solar Impulse made headlines last year when, piloted by co-founders Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg, it took a solar-powered trip across the United States. A single-seater plane fitted with 12,000 solar cells and four electrically-powered propellers, it was also the first aircraft powered by renewable energy that could fly non-stop for 24 hours.
The next version, the Solar Impulse 2, will have 17,000 solar cells built into the wings that have a span longer than a Boeing 747. The plane is expected to make the round-the-world trip in around four to five months, with some legs lasting as long as 120 hours non-stop. The first and last stop will be Abu Dhabi.
"This well-matched partnership will show Abu Dhabi to be a center of expertise when it comes to renewable energy," said Piccard in an official statement.
"At the same time, Solar Impulse will demonstrate the far-reaching applications of clean energy during the first solar-powered flight around the world."
Masdar, Abu Dhabi's renewable energy company, is also a partner in the project, and will help the Solar Impulse team train and test the aircraft before it takes to the skies.
"Abu Dhabi, Masdar and Solar Impulse have in common a pioneering spirit, a long-term vision and a desire to explore new horizons," said Dr. Sultan Ahmad Al Jaber, Masdar's chairman, and the UAE minister of state, also in an official statement, adding:
"We share a commitment to foster the development of technological advances in alternative energy sources in order to contribute to a cleaner, more sustainable future."