In 2016, our renewable ethanol transport fuel achieved 66% greenhouse gas (GHG) savings compared to petrol, thereby reducing Europe’s annual GHG emissions by 7 million tonnes – equivalent to the annual emissions of 4 million new cars.
Europe’s transport emissions account for about 25% of total EU GHG emissions and represent the main cause of air pollution in cities. Road transport is the biggest contributor to transport emissions in the EU (around 70%), mostly due to passenger car emissions. Solutions are urgently needed to address this. Sustainable biofuels are proven to be one of the most commercially viable carbon abatement solutions for transport in the short to medium term.
Renewable ethanol, which can be mixed with conventional petrol, is a cost-effective and readily available means of decarbonising transport. In 2016, European ethanol achieved certified and audited average 66% GHG savings compared to petrol, thereby reducing Europe's annual GHG emissions by 7 million tonnes – equivalent to the annual emissions of 4 million new cars, or 1.5% of Europe’s total car fleet.
Furthermore, the use of ethanol can increase the efficiency of petrol’s combustion in optimized engines, helping to reduce the fuel consumption. However, the structure of the European fuels market is complex and hinders the amount of GHG emission savings that can be achieved in transport by limiting the amount of ethanol in petrol to 10% (Fuel Quality Directive)
With the right regulations in place, Europe can achieve substantial cuts in GHG emissions. The EU-wide roll-out of E10 (a petrol-ethanol fuel blend containing up to 10% ethanol in volume) would reduce Europe’s transport emissions by up to 15 million tonnes – equivalent to the annual emissions of 8 million new cars, or 3% of Europe’s total car fleet.
Poor air quality has a major negative impact on human health, reducing life expectancy and causing premature deaths in Europe and around the world, particularly in urban areas.
Increased transport activity and use of fossil fuel represents a major source of air pollution in urban areas. Policymakers therefore need to act in order to meet the EU’s air quality legal obligations.
Greater use of renewable ethanol blended with conventional petrol could lessen air quality problems while reducing reliance on fossil resources.
Petrol blended with higher levels of ethanol has lower emissions of pollutants than fossil fuels. The oxygen content of ethanol helps to improve combustion, and, with the decrease of petrol, results in a decrease of certain emissions such as particulate matter. Adding ethanol to petrol at higher levels, such as E20, could reduce petrol vehicles’ CO2 CO and HC emissions significantly.
Additionally, ethanol is a high-octane compound, which helps replace more toxic octane boosters such as aromatics. The octane rating represents the ability of a fuel to withstand certain pressure/temperature conditions before exploding. The higher the rating, the better the efficiency can be with harsher conditions in the engines. Ethanol represents a cost-effective and clean octane booster, which could be used to create high performance fuel, reducing vehicle emissions and fuel consumption.
For more information about the benefits of ethanol, please click here.