The Department of Transport (DfT) plans to roll out E10 petrol as the standard available petrol on forecourts from September 2021.
E10 petrol is lower-carbon petrol made up of standard petrol and 10 per cent ethanol. The ethanol is made from materials including low-grade grains, sugar and waste wood, so is seen as more sustainable.
E10 is currently legal in the UK, although it is not widely available. However, it has been the standard fuel in various EU countries, including France and Germany, for several years.
E5 petrol, which is currently the standard petrol offered across the UK, is a mixture of petrol and five per cent bioethanol.
The DfT estimates that switching the standard petrol to E10 will reduce CO2 emissions from petrol cars by around 750,000 tonnes a year. This is equivalent to taking 350,000 cars off the road. It demonstrates the power that small changes have to make a substantial difference to UK transport emissions.
The Government has already introduced new labelling across petrol pumps to highlight the biofuel content of every fuel.
All cars built after 2011 should all be compatible with E10 fuel, as the Government made it a legal requirement.
However, not all cars built before 2011 are compatible with E10 fuel. In fact, the Government estimates that around 700,000 models will not run on E10 and will continue to require E5 petrol.
While some of these models will get scrapped when the changeover begins, the Government acknowledges that some of the cars incompatible with E10 will be beloved classics. So E5 will still be available but will no longer be the default fuel.
If you own an older car, the good news is an online computability checker will be available, so you can input your details and find out if you can use E10 petrol in your vehicle or not.
If you fill up with the wrong type of petrol in error, the good news is there is no immediate negative effect. This is unlike filling your petrol car with diesel or vice versa, which causes problems virtually immediately.
However, using E10 in a non-compatible petrol car over long periods will cause problems. It can damage hoses, seals and plastics as well as possibly causing damage to the fuel pump and carburettors.
The roll-out of E10 petrol will boost the UK’s biofuel industry, as the materials needed will be refined in the UK.
The move to more eco-friendly petrol is part of the Government’s commitment to reduce emissions and hit its target of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050. More revolutionary measures include the ban of sales of combustion-engine cars, including many hybrids, from as soon as 2030.
To help increase the sale of electric models, the Government has extended its plug-in grant. With the plug-in grant, you can get a discount on cars that produce CO2 emissions of less than 50g/km and can travel at least 112km (70 miles) without any emissions.
The grant offers 35% of the purchase price, up to a maximum of £3,000 for cars costing less than £50,000.
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