E10 now available for some drivers in Germany, supply increasing

By Holly Jessen | January 05, 2011

Starting Jan. 1, gas stations in Germany started offering E10, an increase from E5 which has been available since 2007. Although some reports are that the roll out of E10 has been delayed by a month, Dietrich Klein, secretary general of the German Bioethanol industry association, told EPM that’s not exactly true. “It’s coming in, but it was never foreseen that it would be everywhere at the first of January,” he told EPM.


Drivers won’t be able to find E10 at all gas stations until each has added the proper labeling and solved certain technical issues. Klein estimated that E10 would be available all over Germany by the end of February or early March. At that point the process will have to be completed or the quota of a minimum energy content of 6.25 percent biofuels in diesel and gasoline won’t be met, he said. Although biodiesel will be used to help fulfill that quota, ethanol is crucial to meeting the quota because biodiesel’s portion is limited to 7 percent of total biofuels volume, Klein said.


E5 will continue to be available at least until 2013 for those cars unable to use E10. The German environment ministry says about 90 percent of vehicles are compatible with E10. That number may actually be even higher, said Rob Vierhout, secretary general of ePURE, the Producers Union of Renewable Ethanol.


The introduction of E10 is part of Germany’s bio-ordinance law, which came following an EU directive requiring 10 percent use of renewable energy in road transport by 2020. By 2015 Germany will transition from the current general mandate to one that decreases greenhouse gas emissions from transport fuels via the use of biofuels, Klein said.


The goal is to lower CO2 in exhaust gases as well as to conserve “increasingly scarce” crude oil, according to a press release from the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety. While the country imports most of its crude oil, the feedstocks for biofuels grow in Germany or Europe. "We expect the introduction of E10 to be structured in a consumer-friendly way,” said Federal Environment Minister Norbert Rottgen. “It must therefore be open and transparent, must not be used for a general increase in petrol prices or have detrimental effects for drivers dependent on existing fuel types."


Dieter Bockey, a spokesperson for the Union of German oilseed producers, noted that the fuel will be available step by step, over time. Four years ago the introduction of E10 was withdrawn in Germany and the acceptance of the fuel this time around will depend on whether the fuel causes any problems with vehicles. “There are lot of uncertainties by the customers who don't know whether the car type has a warranty for E10 or not,” he told EPM.