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Government announces consultation on the introduction of E10 fuel at filling stations across the UK

Wed 04 March 2020 | Back to news list

The Government has announced proposals for the introduction of E10 petrol - up to a 10% blend of ethanol in petrol supplied to forecourts, rising from the current 5% limit. It will consult on plans for the fuel to become the standard grade of petrol at UK filling stations from 2021.

The Government says that the initiative could result in CO2 savings of 750,00 tonnes; emissions reductions equivalent to taking up to 350,000 cars off the road each year.

Current petrol grades in the UK already contain up to 5% bioethanol, known - and now clearly labelled - as E5. E10 would see this percentage increased up to a maximum of 10%, a blend which is already well used in other countries such as Belgium, Finland, France and Germany.

The consultation follows the LowCVP-led roll-out of new labels at filling stations across the UK which highlight the biofuel content of each fuel and help drivers to easily identify the right option for their vehicle.

The Government has also published its response to the E10 and consumer protection aspects of the E10 petrol, consumer protection and fuel pump labeling consultation of 2018. (This is the second and final government response to the 2018 consultation, the first response on fuel pump labelling aspects was released in February 2019.)

The Government agrees that introducing E10 petrol would help the UK meet climate change targets, suggesting - as it has announced simultaneously - a further focused consultation on E10 introduction.

LowCVP's Managing Director Andy Eastlake said: "Petrol cars have grown in popularity in recent years (in standard and plug-in hybrid form) and total sales of petrol have recently been growing - so it's more important than ever to put greener fuel in the green pump while we continue to work to electrify the UK's car and van fleets and seek solutions to decarbonise other sectors of road transport."

"We welcome these Government proposals and will be engaging with our Fuels Working Group to provide feedback to the consultation.

"We believe that the introduction of E10, including the currently applied strict sustainability standards for product feedstocks - which were developed by the LowCVP - can make a significant contribution to CO2 reduction from road transport and help in the drive towards net zero while also supporting UK industry."

The LowCVP convened an expert group in 2017 which published a report - 'Successfully deploying E10 petrol'. The report concluded that the introduction of petrol with a 10% bioethanol content (E10) would be one of the most cost-effective means of rapidly reducing carbon emissions from road transport currently available to the UK.

The group said that the introduction, however, needs to be thoroughly and carefully planned to ensure effective market transition. 

Bioethanol in the UK is produced through the fermentation of wheat or sugar beet. The UK has two of Europe’s biggest bioethanol plants: Ensus on Teesside and Vivergo Fuels in Hull. Both distil locally grown wheat to produce bioethanol, with protein-rich animal feed as a by-product. 

All modern petrol cars are designed, certified and optimised to use E10.  There are still a small number of older non-classic cars, particularly those produced in the 1990s and before, which are not warranted for E10 use, but the majority of these were expected to be scrapped by this year. 

Every new petrol car sold since 1st January 2011, has been required to be fully warranted to use E10. The vast majority of new cars since 2000 are also fully warranted. 97% of petrol cars on UK roads are now fully warranted to use E10. Older cars which are either not warranted to use E10 (or it’s not known if they can use E10) together with historic vehicles, can be catered for through the Super 97 E5 petrol grade, acting as a legacy grade.

NB Due to key stakeholders working on Covid-19 emergency response the Government has decided to extend the consultation closing date. The consultation will now close at 23:45 on 3 May 2020 (not 19 April as previously announced). The situation will be further reviewed in mid-April. (The website and document will be updated to reflect this change as soon as possible.)

The Government's consultation period began on 04 March 2020 and was originally scheduled to run for six weeks. 


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