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From September 2021, forecourts across the UK will start supplying E10 petrol. This is in a bid to reduce CO2 emissions from car exhausts as part of the Government’s ambitious plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050. But what is E10 fuel, and what does it mean for you? 

It’s petrol, not diesel 

To start with, if you only drive a diesel vehicle, this change will have no effect on you at all. But for those that drive a vehicle powered by petrol in one way or another – standard petrol car or petrol-powered hybrid – the switch to E10 fuel will apply to you each time you visit the pumps. 

What is E10 petrol? 

E10 fuel contains up to 10% renewable ethanol. Petrol currently on sale today is E5 fuel, containing up to 5% renewable ethanol, so the switch sees a doubling of the ethanol content.  

By boosting the renewable proportion of petrol, the government is making sure that emissions are reduced slightly per car (estimated to be 2%), which can add up to significant reductions when combined across the entire UK car fleet. 

Will my car run on E10 petrol? 

If your car currently runs on petrol (E5), chances are it will run on E10 petrol as well. As a fuel, it is widely available around the world, and is already available across Europe, the US, and Australia. 

In the UK, E10 fuel is compatible with 95% of petrol-powered vehicles on the road today, and that includes all models built since 2011. Most cars and motorbikes built since the late 1990s are also approved to run on E10. 

If your car is not compatible with E10 petrol, you will still be able to get fuel from most petrol stations. Instead of the standard (Premium) petrol pumps, you will require the higher-grade fuel on offer – Super Unleaded. Pumps will clearly label handles with either E10 or E5 where applicable. 

Classic and older cars may not be compatible, as well as specific models from the 2000s. Some smaller mopeds may not work on E10, and other equipment such as outboard motors, lawn mowers or chainsaws will need checking.  

The owner’s manual or information within the fuel flap for all of the above should say what grade of petrol it can run on, though if unsure, you can find out whether your car is compatible via the UK Government website: Check if your vehicle can run on E10 petrol

What are the benefits? 

To drive, you are unlikely to notice any difference in the experience, responsiveness, or fuel economy. The latter is expected to see only a 1% increase in fuel consumption. Instead, the benefits come when totted up across all UK petrol vehicles. 

Government calculations project that the reduction in fossil-fuel content by an additional 5% could see transport CO2 emissions cut by 750,000 tonnes per year. This is the equivalent of taking 350,000 cars off the road, or all the cars in North Yorkshire. The production of renewable ethanol also produces valuable by-products, such as animal feed and stored CO2. 

This isn’t likely to significantly benefit local air quality issues, since there is a difference between the gases such as those that contribute to climate change (greenhouse gases such as CO2) and air quality/public health (including particulates and nitrogen oxides (NOx)). 

If you want to know more, then further information is available from the UK Government website E10 petrol explained