E10 is on its way – Irish government considering its options

E10 is on its way – Irish government considering its options

The government is considering following Britain’s lead in making E10 fuel the standard petrol blend at filling stations.

Britain joined the US, Australia and several European countries in making E10, a blend of fossil fuel and up to 10 per cent biofuel, the standard petrol this month, with Northern Ireland due to make the change early next year. The biofuel component of E10 is ethanol, a form of renewable energy that can be produced from agricultural feedstocks. The previous standard in the UK was E5, the current standard in Ireland.

The Department of Transport is looking at the option, as it would progress the drive to reduce carbon emissions as outlined in its 2019 Climate Action Plan.

On the 1st September in mainland UK the new, higher spec E10 containing up to 10% ethanol (helping to reduce carbon levels) became available on forecourts – but not in Northern Ireland. Why? Brian Madderson of the Petrol Retailers Association explained:

“Northern Ireland is unable to introduce E10 yet because of blending capacity at terminals. It can’t be shipped in by sea, already blended, as ingressive water would contaminate the fuel – it has to be transported only across land” explained Brian.

“We understand work is in hand to increase blending capacity at Northern Ireland’s terminals in Belfast and the one in Derry/Londonderry but it won’t be until the end of the second quarter in 2022 – so around another six months.

“In England, Scotland and Wales its obligatory from 1st September. One big concern is that there are a number of older vehicles and classic cars with engines not designed to be able to take fuel containing 10% ethanol – estimated at around 700,000 vehicles across the UK – plus classic cars which will have to use super unleaded (which remains E5). That commands a premium so these motorists will need to pay more.

“It may also affect smaller forecourts in Northern Ireland that only have two tanks – one for diesel and one for standard petrol. Owners will be likely to turn their petrol tank to E10 which means people who own older and classic cars will have to go where there is super unleaded available.”