UK introduces new mandate on sustainable petrol blends

From September 2021

The Government has run a consultation on how to make E10 – a lower-carbon fuel mixed with 10% ethanol – to become the standard grade of petrol at UK stations from 2021. Ministers believe that E10 can cut emissions from transport by 750,000 tonnes annually – the equivalent to removing 350,000 cars from UK roads.

From September 2021, E10 will be mandated across the UK, in a bid to reduce emissions from transport.

Gaynor Hartnell, chief executive of the Renewable Transport Fuel Association commented: “There aren’t many opportunities for the UK to reduce its GHG emissions almost instantly – most take significant time and investment.  Introducing E10 is an exception, in that it can reduce carbon emissions from petrol cars almost overnight. 

“The British Bioethanol industry contributes so much to the UK economy.  It supports thousands of jobs both directly and in the supply chain, and as well as providing clean fuel, it produces an animal feed by-product.  It offers farmers a market for lower-grade wheat that can’t be used for milling and a local source of protein feed, meaning less soy-based feed needs to be imported from South America.”

Current petrol grades in the UK already contain up to 5% bioethanol, which is called E5. Integration of E10 petrol would boost the percentage to 10% and is already used in European countries such as France and Germany.

However, research suggests that the fuel may not be compatible with as many as 800,000 older vehicles. Analysis of the DVLA’s database by the RAC Foundation in 2017 found that 868,000 cars were unable to use E10 petrol in Europe.

Production efforts

Additionally, concerns exist as to the UK’s ability to produce bioethanol. The UK has three production facilities at Ensus, British Sugar and Vivergo which ceased production in September 2018. However, AB Sugar has since announced its intention to re-start operations at Vivergo in light of the new mandate.

David Philipson, Transport Technical Specialist at Cenex, said: “We estimate that using E10 petrol instead of the current E5 petrol could reduce road transport CO2 emissions by 2% annually, equivalent to taking 350,000 cars off the UK roads.

“It’s important any introduction of E10 is brought forward with sustainability and public engagement at the forefront. Some older vehicles may not be fully compatible with E10: we estimate that 600,000 vehicles in the UK would be affected, though this number will fall as older vehicles are removed from the roads. Leading fuel suppliers have given express assurances that E5 will still be available to purchase at many forecourts for those concerned.”

The UK has moved its phase-out of new sales of petrol and diesel vehicles to 2030. Transport is the UK’s largest emitting sector, accounting for more than 30% of national carbon emissions. While this does include aviation, road vehicles account for around 19% of all UK emissions.

Under Theresa May, the UK Government had initially introduced the ban on new petrol and diesel car sales with a 2040 deadline. Following criticism from green groups, including its own Climate Change Committee, over the policy’s alignment with the UK’s 2050 net-zero target, Prime Minister Johnson moved in February to alter the deadline to 2035. 2035 is the date cited by the CCC in its initial recommendations framework on legislating for net-zero by mid-century. The deadline was then moved forward by another five years.

Matt Mace

Comments (1)

  1. Richard Phillips says:

    Yes, and lower mpg.
    Richard Phillips

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