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10 Mar 2020
Jamie Gibbs Alice Campion

Green fuel set to 'clean up' Britain’s roads


E10 at the fuel pump

The government is considering introducing E10, a cleaner form of fuel. Great news for the environment, but is it good for your motor?

The Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, announced that drivers will be filling up with greener fuel as soon as 2021.

The new fuel – known as E10 – aims to cut CO2 emissions by over 750,000 tonnes per year. This is equal to taking 350,000 cars off the road.

The cleaner petrol is part of the plan to reach the carbon neutral goal by 2050.

But the new fuel may not be compatible with older models and could potentially cause damage.

So what is E10? And is it compatible with your car?

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What is E10?

E10 uses a higher amount of ethanol than regular petrol.

Now, petrol contains up to 5% ethanol – known as E5. This will increase to 10%, hence the name E10.

The higher ethanol content means E10 is cleaner than regular petrol. It should have a big impact in bringing down carbon emissions.

The UK is late to the E10 party though. Countries such as Belgium, Finland, France and Germany are already using this fuel.




What is Ethanol?

Ethanol is an alcohol-based fuel. It's made by the fermentation of different plants, like sugarcane and grains.

Ethanol is classed as "Partially atmospherically carbon-neutral". This means that the carbon produced by using the fuel is balanced out in some way.

In this case, the plants that make ethanol absorb carbon dioxide. This balances the carbon dioxide produced by cars when they use it.


Why are we switching to E10?

Transport represents 24% of emissions, so the pressure is on for the government to find clean alternatives.

Grant Shapps believes that the new fuel will play a part in reducing carbon emissions. He comments:

"The next 15 years will be absolutely crucial for slashing emissions from our roads, as we all start to feel the benefits of the transition to a zero-emission future.

"But before electric cars become the norm, we want to take advantage of reduced CO2 emissions today.

"This small switch to petrol containing bioethanol at 10% will help drivers across country reduce the environmental impact of every journey."


Will E10 affect my car?

The path to a carbon neutral UK never did run smooth. It’s thought that as many as 600,000 vehicles on our roads won't be compatible with E10.

The good news is if you bought your car new after 2011, it should be compatible with the new fuel.

Classic car owners may struggle though, as cars registered before 2002 aren't compatible.

If you put E10 in a non-compatible car it will still run. But problems with the seals, plastics, and metals could develop over time.

Some have also said they have had trouble starting their vehicle when using E10. People think this is because it's less stable.


Will E10 be more expensive than normal petrol?

Early forecasts in 2019 suggested that the cost of E10 wouldn't exceed the current price of fuel by more than 1p per litre.

Motorists with cars that aren’t compatible will be able to use premium fuel brands – but at premium prices.

In 2019, Transport minister Jesse Norman commented:

“This government is ambitiously seeking to reduce the UK’s reliance on imported fossil fuels and cut carbon emissions from transport. But drivers of older vehicles should not be hit hard in the pocket as a result.”

The government has suggested a reduction in vehicle excise duty to compensate for older models having to use premium fuel. For more information on the introduction of E10, visit the government website.


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