Futuristic solar-powered Dutch family car gives energy back to the grid

Solar Team Eindhoven vehicle ‘Stella Vie’ from the Netherlands pictured in front of the Adelaide Town Hall near the finish line of an epic 3,000-kilometer solar car race across Australia’s outback. (AFP)
Updated 18 October 2017
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Futuristic solar-powered Dutch family car gives energy back to the grid

ADELAIDE: A futuristic Dutch family car that not only uses the sun as power but supplies energy back to the grid was hailed as “the future” Sunday as the World Solar Challenge wrapped up.
The innovative bi-annual contest, first run in 1987, began in Darwin a week ago with 41 vehicles setting off on a 3,000-kilometer trip through the heart of Australia to Adelaide.
Dutch car “Nuna 9” won the race for the third-straight time, crossing the finish line on Thursday after traveling at an average speed of 81.2 kilometers per hour.
It was competing in the Challenger class, which featured slick, single seat aerodynamic vehicles built for sustained endurance and total energy efficiency.
But there was also a Cruiser class, introduced to bridge the gap between high-end technology and everyday driving practicality.
German team HS Bochum was the first to arrive Friday with its stylish four-seater classic coupe, featuring sustainable materials such as vegan pineapple leather seats.
But another Dutch team, Eindhoven, was set to be crowned overall champion based on a system taking into account design, practicality, energy efficiency, and innovation, organizers said.
Their family car, “Stella Vie,” carried five people at an average speed of 69 kilometers per hour, with event director Chris Selwood saying it was a practical demonstration of what the future might look like.
“These incredible solar cars have been designed with the commercial market in mind and have all the features you’d expect in a family, luxury or sporting car,” he said.
“Team Eindhoven are to be congratulated on their achievement to date — clearly the most energy efficient solar car in the field, capable of generating more power than they consume.
“This is the future of solar electric vehicles. When your car is parked at home it can be charging and supplying energy back to the grid.”
Cars in the race were mostly developed by universities or corporations, with teams hailing from around the world.
They were allowed to store a small amount of energy but the majority of their power had to come from the sun and the vehicle’s kinetic forces.
Team Eindhoven said its vision had been to build a family car with a balance between aerodynamic, aesthetic and practical design.
“We think we succeeded very well with a car that is more efficient than its predecessors and includes some state-of-the-art technologies to not only generate energy but also supply it back to the grid,” they said.
“Through a smart charging and discharging system she charges the battery when the demand of energy from the grid is high and vice versa. Any surplus energy generated can easily be supplied back to the grid.”
Of the 12 Cruiser class cars that started, six finished.
As well as the German and Dutch entrants, vehicles from Australia, Hong Kong, Taiwan and the United States also crossed the finish line.


Australia overtakes Qatar as top global LNG exporter

Updated 11 min 52 sec ago
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Australia overtakes Qatar as top global LNG exporter

  • Australia shipped 6.79 million tons of LNG in November while Qatar exported 6.2 million tons
  • Australia has invested heavily in a number of LNG export projects over the last few years

LONDON: Australia has become the largest exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG) in the world, overtaking Qatar for the first time, according to data published on Monday.

Australia shipped 6.79 million tons of LNG in November while Qatar exported 6.2 million tons, according to Refinitiv Eikon, the financial data arm of Thomson Reuters.

While LNG exports from Australia increased by more than 15 percent from the previous month, Qatar’s exports dropped by 3 percent.

Australia has invested heavily in a number of LNG export projects over the last few years. Just last month, the first LNG shipment left the country’s new offshore Ichthys project on the northwestern coast of Australia.

Analysts expect Australia will look to maintain its lead ahead of the Qataris.

“Competition between Qatar and Australia for the share of global LNG market is set to intensify further,” said Abhishek Kumar, senior energy analyst at Interfax Energy’s global gas analytics in London.

“Australia has boosted its market share in recent years by bringing online a slew of LNG export projects. This is in stark contrast with the situation in Qatar where the export capacity has remained around 77 million tons per annum,” he said.

Ehsan Khoman, head of regional research and strategy at MUFG, in Dubai, said Australia has an advantage over Qatar due to it being geographically closer to major gas importers.

“The lower transportation freight costs will remain the backbone of Australia comparative advantage as an exporter vis-à-vis Qatar, given the country’s closer proximity to the largest LNG importers in Asia, namely, Japan, China and South Korea,” he said.

Rising LNG exports from US will add to the global market competition, he said.

“Going forward, the LG space is likely to undergo a major transformation driven by new supplies coming from the US, with our expectation of a three-way tug of war between the US, Australia and Qatar to intensify in the medium term for global leadership among LNG exporters, notably for a larger share of the key market in Asia.”

The data follows Qatar’s announcement last week that it would leave the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) in early 2019 to focus on gas production.

Kumar said he expects Qatar to ramp up efforts to maintain its market position as competition grows from other exporters.

“Qatar has plans to vigorously defend its market share in the coming years as it is moving ahead with expanding the capacity of its Ras Laffan plant to around 110 million tons per annum by the end of 2025 or early 2026,” he said.