E85 ‘superethanol’ gets a boost in France and Finland


Two EU Member States in the vanguard of sustainable biofuels policy, France and Finland, have recently seen important developments in the uptake of low-carbon E85 fuel, or superethanol.

France, where E10 (containing up to 10% renewable ethanol) is the most popular petrol blend, has seen dramatic growth in recent years in the consumption of E85 (containing up to 85% renewable ethanol). Finland has recently adopted a law offering motorists a scrapping premium for switching to vehicles that can run on lower-emission E85 fuel.

E85 in France

The growth of E85 in France is particularly remarkable. According to new figures from the Bioethanol Collective, which represents French ethanol producers and sugar beet growers, consumption of E85 increased by 4% in 2020, even as the use of all other fuels plummeted due to the COVID-19 transport fuel market downturn.

“Despite a drastic drop in traffic with each successive lockdown, bioethanol indicators are all pointing up, in response to growing enthusiasm among consumers,” said a statement from the Bioethanol Collective.

The rise in E85 use was accompanied by growth in the number of service stations selling E85 in France: a 32% increase in 2020, with more than 2,300 stations offering it at the pumps. As 2021 began, E85 was on sale at one in every four stations in the country.

E85 can be used in flex-fuel vehicles and in regular petrol cars equipped with a simple conversion system (which a lot of motorists in France are using); E85 is currently available widely in France and Sweden and in some other countries, including Finland. Belgium is considering adopting E85 use, as well. The fuel is cheaper than regular petrol in France, and delivers big benefits for GHG reduction and air quality compared to fossil.

Responding to the market growth in France, automaker Ford announced it was launching six new vehicle models compatible with E85, including flex-fuel and hybrid models.

Flex-fuel in Finland

In Finland, the government has offered motorists incentives to switch to vehicles that can run on eco-friendly E85. The incentives include a scrapping premium of up to €2,000 for turning in an old car to buy a flex-fuel vehicle.

For more information on E85 in French, including a locator map of service stations selling E85, click here.

For more on E85 in English, read our infographic here.

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