A public consultation has been launched on introducing E10 petrol to the UK marketplace. The fuel, which contains 10 per cent bioethanol compared to the 5 per cent contained within current unleaded, is said to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2 per cent.

But while all new cars sold in the European Union from 2011 must be able to run on E10 petrol, the Government estimates it remains unsuitable for around a million UK cars. E10’s higher bioethanol content can dislodge deposits in older engines and fuel systems, causing blockages, and it can also cause some seals, gaskets, metals and plastics to corrode in unsuitable vehicles.

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In recognition of this, the Department for Transport is investigating whether E10 should be introduced to UK petrol stations, and if so, how. Considerations such as labelling – both of E10 petrol and conventional E5 unleaded – are within the consultation’s scope, as is whether normal unleaded should be given a “protection grade”, to “ensure standard petrol remains available at an affordable price”.

However, the 2 per cent reduction in carbon emissions that a switch to E10 petrol would bring has to be taken into consideration alongside petrol consumption, as E10 is thought to decrease economy anywhere from 1.5 to 3 per cent.

Launching the consolation, transport minister Jesse Norman said the Government is “ambitiously” seeking to “cut carbon emissions from transport”, though he stressed “drivers of older vehicles should not be hit hard in the pocket”. Norman said the consultation aimed to “understand the impact of E10 on the UK market better, and to ensure that drivers are protected if any changes come into effect.” The consultation is open now, and closes on 16 September.

Back in 2016, the Energy Select Committee was told the only way for the UK to hit EU renewable energy targets was to introduce E10 petrol. At the time, Jonathan Murray from the Low Carbon Vehicles Partnership told MPs E10 would give the UK “a fighting chance of getting to the target”.

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