Solar Impulse 2
Solar Impulse 2 will fly around the globe for 25 days next year Getty

An enormous solar powered plane wider than a Boeing 747 jumbo jet will become the first of its kind to circumnavigate the globe without fuel when it takes off from Abu Dhabi next year.

The Swiss-made Solar Impulse 2 has 17,000 solar panels spread across a wingspan of 72m - four metres wider than a 747, which has a wingspan of 68m.

Pilots Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg, who are also co-founders of firm Solar Impulse, will take it in turn to fly the plane, which would become the first aircraft to fly day and night without fuel or emissions.

The flight, which will depart from Abu Dhabi in March 2015 and has attracted the support of Richard Branson, aims to complete 25 flying-days around the globe before finally descending and touching down four months and 35,000km later in Abu Dhabi in July.

The single-seater airplane will fly over the Arabian Sea, India, Myanmar, China, the Pacific Ocean, the United States, the Atlantic Ocean and southern Europe or North Africa, it was announced on Thursday in New York.

Flights over the vast oceans of the Pacific and Atlantic will last five to six days, achieved by Solar Impulse 2's usage of solar power.

Piccard and Borschberg will have access to six oxygen bottles, a parachute, a life raft and food and water rations.

Solar Power 2
Solar Power 2 completed a test flight in Germany earlier this year Getty