Sustainable Energy

In bid to cut transport emissions, UK government wants to introduce lower carbon fuel to gas stations

Key Points
  • The fuel that authorities want to introduce contains as much as 10% bioethanol in its mix
  • While the plans may help to cut emissions on the road, some organizations are keen to point out the potential hurdles involved.
boonchai wedmakawand | Moment | Getty Images

The U.K. government is to consult on introducing a lower carbon fuel to gas stations, a move that could cut carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the transport sector.

The fuel in question is called E10, which contains as much as 10% bioethanol in its mix. At the moment, E10 is not available in the U.K., although the government said Wednesday that the blend was used in a number of other countries including Germany, France and Finland.

Currently, unleaded petrol in the U.K. has up to 5% bioethanol in its mix, with this type of fuel called E5.

The government said the E10 blend could potentially reduce CO2 emissions from transport by 750,000 tons annually, which equates to removing approximately 350,000 cars off the road.

"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," Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, said in a statement Wednesday.

"But before electric cars become the norm, we want to take advantage of reduced CO2 emissions today," he added. "This small switch to petrol containing bioethanol at 10% will help drivers across country reduce the environmental impact of every journey."

Introducing lower carbon fuel 'will pose some challenges'

While the plans may reduce emissions, some organizations were keen to point out the potential hurdles involved.

"Everybody agrees that steps must be taken to reduce emissions from road transport, however introducing E10 as the standard petrol will pose some challenges," Simon Williams, fuel spokesman at motoring organization the RAC, said in a statement. 

"Firstly, as the RAC Foundation points out, there could be as many as 600,000 vehicles on our roads that aren't compatible with the fuel," he added.

"Many of these are likely to be owned by those from lower income backgrounds and while it is welcome that E5 petrol is not being phased out altogether, owners of these vehicles will face higher fuel costs – and will also have to hunt out those forecourts that still sell E5."

Williams went on to explain that some retailers would "also not have the capacity to be able to provide both E5 and E10 fuels on forecourts, so the impact is likely to be most keenly felt by those with incompatible vehicles in rural areas."

Looking at the bigger picture, the U.K. government wants to end the sale of new diesel and petrol (gasoline) cars by the year 2035.

The plans, which were announced at the beginning of February and are subject to consultation, also include hybrid vehicles. U.K. authorities had previously said the sale of new petrol and diesel vans and cars would end in 2040.