Petrol and diesel are the predominant vehicle fuels in Europe, and have been for a long time. But recent concerns about the environmental impacts of these oil-based transport fuels, and also energy security, have created interest in the development of alternative fuels, such as renewable ethanol. Renewable ethanol is a clean, domestically produced alternative to petrol. In Europe, renewable ethanol is mostly blended with traditional petrol at levels of maximum 5-10% ethanol content. Higher ethanol concentrations can be used in adapted vehicle engines, such as E85 in Flex Fuel Vehicles or ED95 in specific heavy-duty vehicles.
Imports accounted for 88% of the EU’s oil supply in 2016. The EU’s transport sector accounted for around two-thirds of the final demand for petroleum products (of which 54% was for road transport), the sector being more than 93% dependent on fossil products. This situation threatens our energy security as well as damaging our environment. Reducing the energy consumption and fuel carbon of European vehicles represents the greatest opportunity for achieving a large reduction in GHG emissions. In this context, renewable ethanol is one of the most cost-efficient solutions to decrease GHG emissions.
The use of European renewable ethanol in Europe to reduce GHG emissions and improve energy dependence complies with the world’s most stringent sustainability standards. Over its whole life cycle, renewable ethanol can reduce GHG emissions by 66% on average compared to fossil petrol.
Currently used ethanol blends in Europe are E5, E10, E85 (for Flex-Fuel-Vehicles) and ED95 (for heavy-duty vehicles).
E20/25 has a high octane rating and contributes twofold to GHG emission reductions: not only does it lower GHG emissions directly through the replacement of fossil petrol, but it also can also improve engine efficiency thanks to its higher octane rating.
This is confirmed by a meta-analysis completed by the Vienna University of Technology, which found that E20/25 blends, compared to regular petrol (E0), lead to higher engine efficiency and a decrease in end of pipe emissions.
For all market players involved such as car manufacturers, fuel distributors, blenders, refiners and ethanol producers, a roadmap for the introduction of E20/25 would bring the clarity needed in order to prepare for a smooth market introduction of the new fuel. New infrastructure will need to be developed, including the roll out of E20/25 compatible vehicles.