An increase in the proportion of crop-based bioethanol included in petrol has been given the green light by government officials.
The so-called E10 petrol will contain 10% bioethanol, rather than the current maximum 5% inclusion rate, and will become the new standard road fuel from September 2021.
The move is a major boost for the arable sector, with increased demand for the UK wheat and sugar sectors in particular around biofuel plants in the north-east of England.
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A Department of Transport spokesperson said the UK bioethanol sector was currently operating below capacity. This was due to domestic demand being limited by the previous 5% (E5) petrol standard and an oversupply of European and global ethanol.
Introducing E10 could consequently provide a boost to UK industry and agriculture, particularly to the large bioethanol producers in the north east of England, the spokesperson said.
Great farming investment
AB Sugar, which owns the UK’s Vivergo bioethanol plant near Hull, said it would reopen immediately on the back of the government’s decision.
The plant can use more than 1m tonnes of wheat a year in its process, sourcing from farms within a 50-mile radius, but it had been mothballed due to the oversupply of global fuels.
AB Sugar chief executive Mark Carr said: “The introduction of E10 is one of the quickest, easiest and most cost-effective ways of the UK reducing its carbon emissions.
“We will be recruiting around 85 highly skilled green jobs in addition to the core team that remained in place during its closure in the north-east of England and reopening a new market for wheat farmers in the UK.”
While local arable farmers will benefit, the government’s main driver is to reduce emissions from transport which is the biggest greenhouse gas producer at 27% of the UK total.
Moving from a 5% to 10% inclusion rate will be equivalent to removing 350,000 vehicles from UK roads.
NFU crops board chairman Matt Culley said that the union had long been pressing for the government to authorise E10 fuel.
“E10 is a great example of how investment in farming and the rural economy can benefit the whole country,” said Mr Culley.
“British growers have the ability to deliver more renewable fuel for the nation, alongside continuing to produce the country’s larder staples, and we should do all we can to maximise that potential to help drive green growth across the economy.”