Lower-carbon E10 petrol, which is made with 10% ethanol, is set to be introduced as standard at UK filling stations from September 2021 under new plans by the government.
Following a consultation on switching petrol grades from E5 (with 5% bioethanol) to E10, the Department for Transport claims the move would reduce the average CO2 emissions of a petrol vehicle by 2% compared with E5 fuel. In total, it could reduce CO2 transport emotions by 750,000 tonnes per year, the equivalent of 350,000 cars.
The government has set a target of reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050, as part of which it will ban the sales of new combustion-engined cars - including most hybrids - from 2030.
Transport secretary Grant Shapps said: “We’re going further and faster than ever to cut emissions from our roads, cleaning up our air as we accelerate towards a zero-emission transport future.
“Although more and more motorists are driving electric vehicles, there are steps we can take to reduce emissions from the millions of vehicles already on our roads – the small switch to E10 petrol will help drivers across the country reduce the environmental impact of every journey, as we build back greener.”
E10 petrol is currently legal to sell in the UK, but not widely available. The government has already introduced new labelling for petrol pumps, highlighting the biofuel content of every fuel. E10 petrol is currently standard in a number of countries, including France and Germany.
The government says that around 700,000 older cars still used on UK roads would be unable to run E10 fuel, due to the differing mix. Although it estimates a significant number of those will be scrapped by the time the switch is introduced, it notes that some “classic and cherished” older vehicles will remain. To ensure they can continue to run, the government plans to require that higher-octane ‘Super’ fuel will continue to be made to E5 standards while E10 becomes the default for ‘Premium’ grade 95 octane fuel.
Car owners will be able to find out if their vehicle can run on E10 fuel with a dedicated compatibility checker, but cars built post-2011 are legally required to be able to use the fuel.