E10 Petrol to Replace Regular Petrol in the UK – What’s Going On?
E10 Petrol to Replace Regular Petrol in the UK – What’s Going On?
If you’ve heard a bit of a buzz about E10 petrol coming in, and you’re worried about what it is and whether or not it’s incompatible with your car, then today’s blog is for you. We’re taking an in-depth look at E10 petrol to see what’s going on.
Let’s start at the beginning with an explanation on what exactly E10 petrol is and how it differs from the regular unleaded petrol that we have been using for decades.
What Is E10 Petrol? How Is It Different from Regular Unleaded?
In simple terms, E10 petrol is a biofuel that is made up of 90 percent petroleum/gasoline, and 10 percent ethanol. Ethanol is made from farm products such as sugar and beets, and is renewable as a fuel. Furthermore, it actively helps to make regular petrol cleaner.
In fact, the addition of ethanol to your petrol is not new. The unleaded petrol that you have been putting into your car for many years now is actually known as E5, which means it contains 5 percent ethanol, as well.
Increasing the percentage of ethanol will increase the green credentials of petrol. Unleaded petrol was a first step to making our fuels cleaner, and E10 is another step forward in that evolution.
Not only is the addition of ethanol to your petrol not a new technology, but E10 is also not new. It has already been used in mainland Europe, the US and Australia for many years. Since 2016, it has been the fuel that new cars are tested against for their emissions performance, too. So, as it turns out, the UK is a little behind in its adoption.
Is E10 Petrol Really Going to Replace Regular Petrol? If So, When?
If up until now you’ve only heard of the implementation of E10 as a rumour in the pub or on social media, then now is time to start recognising and believing. It is going to happen and E10 will become the new regular fuel for the foreseeable future.
The rollout of E10 across the UK is set to be in place by September 2021 after some recent delays. This means that from September then new “Standard” or “Premium” petrol will officially be E10.
Why Are We Making the Switch to E10 Petrol?
The main reason for the switch to E10 is environmental. According to government information, switching just from E5 to E10 on the majority of cars will have a huge and noticeable impact on the UK’s CO2 emissions. Therefore, as the government takes multiple measures to make Britain a carbon-neutral state by 2050. So, how will E10 contribute to that goal?
Firstly, the blend of 10-percent renewable ethanol can help to cut the carbon emissions of a car to the point where if it is used as the “Standard” or “Premium” fuel of the nation, it will be the equivalent of taking 350,000 cars off the roar entirely every year.
In more precise terms, it will cut transport emissions of carbon dioxide by an amazing 750,000 tonnes per year. That’s how much carbon that a forest the size of the Isle of Wight could absorb during that time. When the goal is to become carbon neutral by 2050, such a reduction makes a real difference.
Besides the environmental concerns, there are economic reasons to support the switch to E10, too. Already in the north east of England, the E10 switch and its increased requirement for ethanol biofuels has meant the creation of 100 additional jobs as AB Sugar’s Vivergo plant reopened. There is also increased production of ethanol biofuels going on at other plants such as Ensus.
How Will This Switch Affect Me?
When any big shift or rollout of a new critical commodity comes, there is always justified concern among the population about how this change is going to impact them. This is especially true if the impacts are bound to be negative.
The first impact is owners having to quickly understand whether or not their vehicle is even compatible with this new fuel. The good news is that the vast majority of cars on the road already are. Government statistics showed that in 2020, there were 600,000 vehicles on the road that were not compatible with E10. However, that’s out of a total of 38.3 million.
Owners can check their compatibility in two ways. The first way is to use the compatibility checking website on GOV.uk. Another way is to inspect your petrol cap and spout area for a label from the manufacturer. If the label shows both E5 and E10, then you are compatible. If you can’t see E10 anywhere marked around your petrol cap, then the chances are you’re not compatible, but double check on the web link above.
The good news for drivers is that E10 is expected to actually be cheaper than the E5 petrol, which is going to be transitioning to the super fuel segment. According to numbers from the Department of Transport estimates, the reduction in price could be as much as 0.2 pence per litre.
On the other hand, there is also a chance that the E10 fuel won’t live up to your car’s typical mileage. In E10 fuel, energy content is much less which means that overall will likely be less efficient over time.
Diesel Car Owners
E10 is, unfortunately, still unsuitable for diesel cars. Policies on use of red diesel in the future have already been made by Chancellor Rishi Sunak. The new guidelines says that from the 1st April, 2022 (it won’t be a joke), only those working in agriculture, fish farming, forestry rail, non-commercial heating systems and horticulture will still be able to continue using red diesel. Red diesel will still be important to those sectors, not just for its application in related machinery, vehicles and vessels, but also for its cheaper price tag.
Those who continue using on-road “white diesel” will be paying the much higher duty rate of 57.95p per litre. Those wanting to take advantage of E10 fuel will have to make a switch to a new petrol car that is compatible with E10.
I’ve Heard Ethanol Damages the Engine – Is It True?
The E10 fuel will only damage your car if you are using it without being properly compatible. Those vehicles that are fully compatible should experience no problems with it. There are other worries from some about whether or not E10 fuel can damage your engine. We’ll talk more about that in this section.
Fuels like E10 petrol are already quite widely used across North America and Australia. Some drivers in those countries have pointed out in the past that the ethanol content of the petrol appeared to be responsible for damaging their car’s fuel pump and other fuel intake components. They even claim that too high a content of ethanol can damage the engine irreparably.
The use of ethanol in petrol is not a new technology. The technique goes all the way back to the time of Henry Ford, but it wasn’t until the 1970s that ethanol became a more serious additive. It was in the wake of the oil crisis in the early 1970s that prices spiked and so methods of bringing down cost were explored. This is where ethanol came in. Although it can’t directly replace petrol, it can substitute part of the petrol --- 10 percent in the case of E10 --- and therefore reduce the cost.
Increasing the amount of ethanol in petrol to create E10 and E15 fuels has been blamed by some for increased engine damage. Since 2019, however, cars have optimised their designs to accommodate the greater ethanol content and thus you shouldn’t expect any damage from ethanol when using E10 on newer cars.
If you have an older car but with E10 compatibility, then you should still have the same expectation. The fact is that only those without proper compatibility with E10 should expect damage to occur, and even then it wouldn’t come just from a single use.
Conclusion: Look Out for the Government’s National Awareness Campaign
After reading today’s blog and reflecting on the last several weeks, you might realise that you’ve seen ads about E10 around your community or on your commute to work, or possibly on the TV, radio or online. If you haven’t, then keep your eyes open for it.
The best thing you can do before the switch comes into effect is to arm yourself with as much information as you possibly can. Check your car’s compatibility, and ask at your usual filling stations if they will have E5 ‘super petrol’ after E10 comes in. If you are temporarily stuck using E5 petrol, you’ll need to know exactly where you can get it, even if it means changing stations. Know your car’s compatibility, and know what your local stations are offering, and you should be well prepared.