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Motor Vehicles: Alternative Fuels

Question for Department for Transport

UIN 130245, tabled on 15 December 2020

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of using ethanol as a substitute for petrol in the automotive sector.

Answered on

18 December 2020

Low carbon fuels, including biofuels, play a significant role in decarbonising road transport. The Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO), a certificate trading scheme, has been successful since 2008 in supporting a UK market for renewable fuels. In 2019, biofuel supplied under the RTFO saved 5,368kt of CO2 emissions; the equivalent of taking 2.3 million vehicles off the road for a full year.

Low carbon fuels will continue to contribute to meeting UK carbon budgets for decades to come, initially from conventional road vehicles but gradually shifting to heavier sectors such as aviation.

Biofuels are currently used in rail and are supported under the RTFO. In future assessments of long-term biofuel use in rail, we will consider the likely need for biofuels in other sectors, their potentially limited supply, and the existence of other viable low-carbon options available for powering trains.

In March 2020 the Department launched the consultation ‘Introducing E10 Petrol’ which proposed introducing petrol that contains up to 10% bioethanol, an increase from the current level of up to 5%. We are working hard to publish the Government Response as quickly as possible, and anticipate that any requirement to provide E10 would come into force in 2021. If combined with an increase in RTFO targets, the introduction of E10 could reduce CO2 emissions from road transport by a further 750,000 tonnes per year. This would be the equivalent of taking around 350,000 cars off the road.