Biofuels mix could increase CO2

11th February 2014

Related Topics

Related tags

  • Mitigation ,
  • Renewable ,
  • Procurement


Jack Collins

Increasing the amount of bioethanol in petrol harms fuel efficiency and may actually result in higher CO2 emissions from cars, warns What Car?

The automotive magazine is calling on the government and the automotive sector to do more research into the impact of higher bioethanol mixes in petrol, after its tests suggested that they increased fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.

Under EU rules aimed at ensuring that 10% of the bloc’s transport fuel is from renewable sources by 2020, petrol in the UK currently contains up to 5% bioethanol (E5). Last year, standards were introduced to enable suppliers to increase that mix to 10% (E10).

What Car? tested four road cars – a three-cylinder turbo (Dacia Sandero), a naturally aspirated car (Hyundai i30), a hybrid (Toyota Prius+) and a four-cylinder turbo (Mini Paceman) – comparing their fuel efficiency and the amount of carbon emissions generated running on E10 and pure petrol.

The researchers found that fuel consumption increased by 8.4% on average, while CO2 tailpipe emissions increased by 3.9% or 6.4gCO2/km. The 0.9 litre Sandero was most affected by the increase in the amount of ethanol in the petrol, with its fuel economy falling 11.5% (3.9 miles per gallon) and its carbon emissions increasing 7.3%. The turbo-powered Mini, meanwhile, was the least affected, with CO2 rising just 1%.

“We weren’t surprised to find that all of our test cars used more petrol when driven on E10, but what did shock us was just how much more fuel they got through on E10 over ethanol free petrol,” commented Emma Butcher, consumer editor at What Car?.

“Our tests clearly show that adding ethanol to your tank can have a much bigger impact on fuel economy than experts have predicted. We are now calling for more intensive real world research to take place on a much wider scale before E10 is pushed out to our petrol pumps.”

The research findings came as the European commission agreed to amend Regulation 510/2011, which sets mandatory limits on the amount of carbon emissions new vans can produce.

Under the amending regulation, manufacturers of light commercial vehicles must still ensure that their vans produce less than 147g CO2/km on average by 2020, however, it amends the methods for reaching the carbon reduction target.

The new regulation will apply to manufacturers producing more than 1,000 new light commercial vehicles registered in the EU each year and allows firms to use innovative technologies to achieve the necessary CO2 savings up to a maximum of 7gCO2/km.

The EU has a bloc-wide target of 175gCO2/km phased in up to 2016, and each manufacturer has a target based on the weight of each new van it registers in a given year. In 2012, more than 239,000 new vans were registered in the UK alone.

Transform articles

National climate plans could see fossil fuel demand peak by 2025

Demand for fossil fuels will peak by 2025 if all national net-zero pledges are implemented in full and on time, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has forecast.

15th October 2021

Read more

The Green Homes Grant is set to deliver only a fraction of the jobs and improvements intended, leading to calls for more involvement from local authorities in future schemes.

23rd September 2021

Read more

COVID-19 recovery packages have largely focused on protecting, rather than transforming, existing industries, and have been a “lost opportunity” for speeding up the global energy transition.

23rd September 2021

Read more

Half of the world's 40 largest listed oil and gas companies will have to slash their production by at least 50% by the 2030s to align with the goals of the Paris Agreement, new analysis has found.

9th September 2021

Read more

None of England’s water and sewerage companies achieved all environmental expectations for the period 2015 to 2020, the Environment Agency has revealed. These targets included the reduction of total pollution incidents by at least one-third compared with 2012, and for incident self-reporting to be at least 75%.

30th July 2021

Read more

The UK’s pipeline for renewable energy projects could mitigate 90% of job losses caused by COVID-19 and help deliver the government’s ‘levelling up’ agenda. That is according to a recent report from consultancy EY-Parthenon, which outlines how the UK’s £108bn “visible pipeline” of investible renewable energy projects could create 625,000 jobs.

30th July 2021

Read more

Billions of people worldwide have been unable to access safe drinking water and sanitation in their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a progress report from the World Health Organisation focusing on the UN’s sixth Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 6) – to “ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all by 2030”.

30th July 2021

Read more

The oil and gas industry is set to burn through its allocated carbon budget 13 years early unless decisive action is taken immediately, new analysis has found.

22nd July 2021

Read more

The UK will no longer use unabated coal to generate electricity from October 2024, one year earlier than originally planned, the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy has announced.

2nd July 2021

Read more

Media enquires

Looking for an expert to speak at an event or comment on an item in the news?

Find an expert