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Going 'clean' can make America great again, says man who traveled the world in solar-powered plane

Meet the man behind the Solar Impulse flight
Meet the man behind the Solar Impulse flight

Renewable energy and clean technologies can help economies grow, create jobs and make money — which could help to make America great again, said Bertrand Piccard, one of the two pilots who flew a solar-powered plane around the world.

"Today, if you want to have growth, if you want employment, if you want profits, you should not offer to the customers what you already have, you have to offer something better, you have to offer something more efficient, you need to build new infrastructure for the country. So in that sense, if you want to make America great again, you have to go to renewable energy and clean technologies," said Piccard, chairman of Solar Impulse, referencing President Donald Trump's campaign slogan.

Speaking to CNBC on the sidelines of the Credit Suisse Global Megatrends Conference in Singapore, Piccard was asked to comment on the political hurdles, especially in the U.S., that have come in the way of efforts to stop climate change. Last month, Trump signed an executive order aimed at rolling back a number of Obama-era climate policies.

Piccard said going clean is "not about being ecological, it's about being logical" as it allows companies and governments to be more efficient.

He added that he has set out to discover 1,000 solutions that can protect the environment while creating jobs and profits at the same time. He hopes that in about a year and a half, he can present those solutions to governments to help them meet their environmental goals.

"There's a small start-up in France that is storing heat up to a thousand degrees in ceramics, there are new systems to desalinate water with solar power," he said, giving examples of the kinds of solutions he is seeking.

"All these are available maybe in a lab, in the start-ups, in companies that nobody heard about. My goal is to bring these to governments," he added.

—CNBC's Martin Soong contributed to this report.