About Ethanol

GHG Reduction & Air Quality

In 2017, European renewable ethanol delivered 70% greenhouse gas (GHG) savings compared to fossil petrol.

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.

European renewable ethanol delivers high GHG savings

Renewable ethanol, which can be mixed with conventional petrol, is a cost-effective and readily available means of decarbonising transport. In 2017, European ethanol achieved certified and audited average 70% GHG savings compared to petrol. That GHG-reducing performance has been improving every year.

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 significantly without the need for changes to existing infrastructure.

Ethanol-petrol blends also help reduce emissions of air pollutants

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.

Key Facts

  • Europe’s transport emissions account for 25% of total GHG emissions in the EU
  • As such, (road) transport is the biggest source of GHG emissions in the EU
  • In 2017, European ethanol achieved 70% average GHG savings compared to petrol
  • The EU-wide roll-out of E10 would reduce Europe’s transport emissions by up 15 million tonnes – the equivalent to the annual emissions of 10 million new cars, or 3% of Europe's total car fleet