UK opens public consultation on introduction of E10

By Erin Voegele | March 04, 2020

The U.K. Department for Transport opened a public consultation on March 4 on a proposal to allow E10 to be sold within the country. The U.K. currently limits the ethanol content of gasoline to 5 percent. Under the proposal, E10 would become the standard grade of gasoline sold at U.K. fill stations starting in 2021.

The consultation explains that the planned move to E10 is part of the U.K. government’s plan to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050. Transportation currently accounts for approximately 28 percent of the country’s GHG emissions.

According to the consultation documents, the introduction of E10 would be a quick way to increase biofuel blending without needing to invest in large-scale infrastructure changes or new technologies. The documents explain that U.K. fuel standards already permit E10 to be sold, but gasoline with more than 5 percent ethanol is not currently available in the country. A switch to E10 is expected to reduce the carbon dioxide emissions from gas-powered vehicles by approximately 2 percent. That savings is in addition to the GHG savings already afforded through the use of E5.

The consultation proposes that the standard 95 octane gasoline sold across the country should change from E5 to E10. The proposed route to introduce E10 is to set a minimum ethanol requirement for standard 95 octane gasoline through amendments made to the country’s motor fuel regulations. While the minimum ethanol level would be set at 5.5 percent, only slightly above the current blend wall of 5 percent, it would enable fuel suppliers and retailers to blend up to 10 percent ethanol in gasoline.

The change is proposed to occur in 2021. The Department for Transport estimates that 89 percent of gasoline-fueled cars in the U.K. would be fully compatible with E10. Fuel stations would be allowed to continue offering a higher octane “super” grade of gasoline that is an E5 blend.  As a result, the consultation notes that a lower ethanol content fuel would continue to be widely available following the introduction of E10.

The U.K. Renewable Energy Association applauded the launch of the E10 consultation. “We are really pleased to see this long-awaited consultation on E10 launched today,” said Nina Skorupska, chief executive of the REA. “The REA has been campaigning for a mandate for E10 for years because bioethanol is a truly sustainable biofuel and it’s fundamental to decarbonizing transport. Furthermore, its production accounts for many high quality jobs in the North East and it is totally integrated in U.K. agriculture.

“The document also contains a call for evidence on two other key measures we have been asking for, increasing the U.K.’s Renewable Transport Fuels Obligation (RTFO) target, and a continuation of the greenhouse gas target,” she continued. “Our modelling shows that the RTFO target needs to be increased from 9.6 percent to at least 15 percent.

“If the government wants to hit its legally-binding carbon budgets 4 and 5 which take us out to 2032, it will require significantly higher ambitions and reductions,” Skorupska said. “We hope to see this in the final policy. ”

The consultation is open through April 19. Additional information is available on the Department for Transport website