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New regulations to double the use of sustainable renewable fuels by 2020

Fri 27 April 2018 | Back to news list

New biofuel targets that came into force on 15 April are set to double the use of renewable fuels in the UK transport sector within 15 years, cutting the sector’s reliance on imported diesel. The new regulations will increase the amount of renewable fuel blended into the transport fuel mix.

Changes to the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO) will compel owners of transport fuel who supply at least 450,000 litres a year or more, to make sure the mix is at least 12.4% biofuel by 2032.

Previously the industry, which supplies fuel to transport companies such as haulage firms and airlines, was only expected to meet a target of 4.75% biofuel.

Transport Minister Jesse Norman said: “We are committed to reducing carbon emissions from transport to tackle climate change, and to making the sector as sustainable as possible. Increasing our use of renewable fuels is a key part of this. The changes we are introducing will double our carbon emissions savings from the RTFO scheme by doubling the use of renewable fuels and reducing reliance on imported fossil diesel. This will deliver emissions savings equal to taking hundreds of thousands of cars off the road.”

Nina Skorupska, chief executive of the Renewable Energy Association, said:

“We welcome the increased targets for renewable transport fuels and are excited by the new regulations which will encourage the production of novel fuels for hard-to-decarbonise sectors.

"The UK’s renewable fuels have excellent environmental credentials and their manufacture supports almost 1,000 direct jobs, many of which are in the north-east. As transport is now the UK’s largest source of greenhouse gas emissions and air quality concerns are growing, this makes the transition to a cleaner system an imperative.”

However, RAC Business has warned that the introduction of E10 petrol could bring issues for fleets. Although compatibility issues with older vehicles are not expected to affect fleets, the increased usage of bioethanol in E10 and its impact on fuel efficiency, particularly for cars with smaller engines, could present problems.

In September 2017, a LowCVP report ‘Successfully Deploying E10 Petrol’ said that bioethanol has a lower energy density than petrol and, consequently, the volumetric fuel consumption using E10 petrol is expected to be slightly (1.5%) more than E5 petrol. In response to this, the LowCVP has said that fuel duty should be adapted to reflect the different energy content of E10, providing a price differential compared with E5 to encourage its use.

Footnote: The Vivergo bioethanol plant in Hull has re-opened following a four-month shut-down period, following unfavourable trading conditions which the company said had been in part, driven by government inaction on the future of renewable fuels and current market conditions. (News link)

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