Forest Green Rovers go electric with Nissan Leafs
While football clubs have a reputation for training ground carparks full of exotic sports cars and gas-guzzling 4x4s – Forest Green Rovers are trialling the use of 11 electric cars in an effort to slash carbon emissions by over 80%.
The unique pilot study will use the fleet of 100% electric Nissan LEAFs for players commuting to training from Birmingham, the Home Counties and across the West Country.
Forest Green chairman Dale Vince said: "Travel is one of the biggest environmental impacts in football, with teams and fans across the country covering millions miles every season by car and coach."
Rovers green revolution has already captured the imagination of the football world – The New Lawn stadium is powered with 100% renewable energy from solar panels and wind power, red-meat has been cut from the menu for players and fans, while matches are played on an organic pitch trimmed by a solar-powered robot lawnmower – the 'Mowbot'.
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"Now we want to tackle transport," Vince continued. "With players living in Birmingham, the Home Counties and around the West Country, we worked out that each week our playing squad could cover almost 10,000 miles travelling to and from training in Gloucestershire.
"Over the course of a season that adds up to almost 430,000 miles and generates more than 135,000 kg of COâ.
"The players took the first step themselves by organising carpools, which straight away cut carbon emissions and fuels costs by more than half.
"The next step is to bring electric vehicles into the equation. We've teamed up with Nissan, who have supplied us with its 100% electric car, the LEAF, eleven of them in fact – which we're going to run in a trial.
"We believe we will cut travel emissions by a further 61% by having most of the players substituting diesel and petrol cars for electric and recharging those cars using carbon-free renewable energy. In total with carpooling and electric cars, we can cut travel emissions by 83%."
Forest Green manager David Hockaday, took delivery of his Nissan LEAF four weeks earlier, and has become acutely aware of how uneconomical his normal diesel car is.
"I do thousands of miles throughout the season, going to training and games, but also travelling to other matches scouting opposition teams and players.
"Not only are there no carbon emissions but it also costs about 10 times less to re-fuel using electricity rather than diesel.
"I've had to change my driving style a bit, because frankly the way I drove my old car was completely uneconomical. This car's brilliant, it looks great, and except for the fact it's completely silent, you wouldn't know it was an electric car."
Travelling on any of those journeys over 100miles will be aided by the rapid-chargers being installed at motorway service stations all over Britain as part of the Electric Highway – after Nissan joined forces with Forest Green's main backer: green energy company Ecotricity.
Forest Green's stadium, The New Lawn, has an EV rapid-charger – powered by renewable energy (from Ecotricity's windmills) – able to re-charge a Nissan LEAF to 80% in less than 30mins.
And what do Hockaday's players think of his new wheels?
"Straight away I've had players coming up to me asking: 'Gaffer when do I get one'. That says it all."