Greener E10 petrol to launch this autumn – but is it better?

Greener E10 petrol to launch this autumn – but is it better?
Forecourts across the UK are set to shift from E5 to E10 petrol in September 2021, the Department for Transport (DfT) has confirmed.

The transition is expected to cut carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 750,000 tonnes a year – the equivalent of taking 350,000 cars off the road, “or all the cars in North Yorkshire”.

It will also generate up to 100 jobs in the north east, with AB Sugar’s Vivergo plant set to reopen, and production due to increase at existing biofuel plants such as Ensus. Materials needed for E10 will be produced and refined in the UK.

RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams, however, noted that some drivers “may see the number of miles they get from a tank go down” as a result of the switch.

The more environmentally-friendly fuel – made from materials like low-grade grains, sugars and waste wood – has up to 10% ethanol in it, whereas the current fuel in use has up to 5%. It’s a step towards the government’s target of reaching net zero emissions by 2050.

Recent official announcements also include the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2030, but this move to greener petrol is being implemented to cut emissions from vehicles currently in use.

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Not all vehicles, however, can use the new E10 fuel. A number of older cars, including classic cars and some models from the early 2000s, will still need to use E5 fuel.

The government has pledged to maintain the existing petrol in the ‘Super’ grade, and advises motorists to use a new E10 compatibility checker before using the upgraded fuel.

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.”

RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams said: “The switch to E10 petrol is clearly good news for the environment and will not affect the vast majority of the UK’s 33m drivers although some may see the number of miles they get from a tank go down as research suggests E10 is potentially slightly less efficient.

“It’s estimated that around 700,000 cars registered prior to 2002 shouldn’t use E10 as seals, plastics and metals may be damaged by its corrosive properties if used exclusively over longer periods. It’s vital that anyone with an older vehicle gets the message about the switch otherwise they could end up with a big repair bill.

“Those with no option but to continue using E5 will have to fork out quite a lot of extra money as super grade unleaded is currently 136p a litre which is over 13p more expensive than regular petrol. There’s also a danger that E5 premium grade petrol may be harder to find in some more rural locations.

“And while there will be no visible impact on prices at pumps, the reality is that the higher cost of bioethanol has already been included in the wholesale cost some time ago. In fact, in the last 12 months the price of a litre has gone up by more than a penny simply because of the biocontent being stepped up gradually by the industry to 10%.”

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