Nottingham follows

Knowledge, inspiration and access to a big useful network are part of Nottingham’s experiences of being a BEST Friend. The concept has helped the city to introduce bioethanol buses. BEST Somerset has also benefited from the cooperation.

Nottingham runs a bioethanol bus. School children get to learn about energy saving (photo Nottingham City Council)

The EU-funded project BEST, which promotes bioethanol for sustainable transport, lets others gain from the ten site members’ experiences through the BEST Friends concept. In the UK, Nottingham City Council joined this network last year.

– We have been a BEST Friend ever since we introduced three ethanol powered buses within Nottingham City in April 2008, says Pete Mathieson, Principal Public Transport Officer at Nottingham City Council.

The bus trial runs for 18 months and will be evaluated after that. If the trial is successful, ethanol could be used for fuelling all 320 buses in Nottingham, which would reduce CO2 emissions by at least 9,500 tonnes per year.

Apart from London, Nottingham has the highest use of bus per person in the UK. Nottingham contacted BEST Somerset before deciding to go along with the ethanol bus project. BEST site coordinator Ian Bright in Somerset informed Nottingham about ethanol as a fuel, the BEST project and the benefits of becoming a BEST Friend.

– We could get access to the BEST website and see what is happening around Europe on bioethanol. There were similar bus inspired schemes as part of the European project so it gave us a forum to discuss our own plans, says Pete Mathieson, and continues:

– Nottingham was quite time constrained when putting together the project and in hindsight, it would have been nicer to have had more time to fully use the BEST Friend concept to find out more details on the technical side and on the business case side.

Still it was very helpful to be able to direct people involved in the Nottingham ethanol bus project – from local authorities, the bus company and EMDA (East Midlands Development Agency) – to the BEST website for background information and context.

– And since then, we have been using BEST to get a detailed look at the ethanol market and development in Europe and how our partners within BEST are moving forward, says Pete Mathieson, who also especially stresses the importance of BEST when it comes to influencing decision makers at local, regional and European level.

As an evaluation of the Nottingham ethanol bus trial, Nottingham University will bring together all the technical aspects and also look at the BEST project in Somerset and ethanol bus projects in other European cities.

Nottingham will spread the results in the East Midlands region and report about its experiences as a BEST Friend.

– We might consider bringing Somerset in so they can give us their experience since they have been involved much longer and have other perspectives – they are looking more on smaller vehicles and the proliferation of cars. And similar we could invite somebody from Europe to come over and present how the market for ethanol vehicles and fuels has developed in their country.

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