UK biofuel tap turned on (updated)
15 March 2006

Drivers of biofuel cars will at last be able to fill up with bioethanol: a Morrisons in Norwich has opened the UK’s first bioethanol E85 fuel pump.

Morrisons, whose Albion Way petrol station will be the first to serve the new fuel, also plans to supply four other stations in the East of England (the largest producer of cereal in the UK) and five sites in Somerset.

E85 is a blend of 85 per cent bioethanol and 15 per cent petrol. Saab claims its new BioPower 9-5 emits 50-70 percent less CO2 than its petrol-only sibling. Bioethanol is nearly carbon-neutral, as the CO2 emitted when driving is balanced by that consumed by the crops grown to produce it.

Because of the higher octane rating of bioethanol, Saab claims its new BioPower model also enjoys a 20 per cent gain in power and a 16 per cent gain in torque when running on bioethanol.

Biofuels have taken off in Sweden, where Saab has sold over 5000 BioPower 9-5s since last summer. The Swedish government charges no tax on biofuel, makes biofuel cars 20 per cent cheaper to insure and gives them free parking.

By contrast, the only UK incentive – apart from protecting the environment – is a saving of two pence per litre. The Government is aiming to have 5 per cent of all motor fuel coming from renewable sources by 2010. This is claimed to be the equivalent of removing over a million cars from the country’s roads in terms of the reduction in emissions.

According to James Beal, Managing Director of Renewable East, the renewable energy agency for the East of England, “developing this market has the opportunity to create and secure up to 10,000 jobs in agriculture and fuel production in the UK.”

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