The Government is consulting on plans for E10, a lower carbon fuel made with up to 10% ethanol, to become the standard grade of petrol at UK filling stations from next year.
The Department for Transport (DfT) said that by increasing the ethanol content of petrol, E10 has the potential to cut CO2 from transport by 750,000 tonnes per year, equivalent to taking around 350,000 cars off the road.
Current petrol grades in the UK already contain up to 5% bioethanol, known as E5. Using E10 would see this percentage increased up to 10%, a blend which is already well used in other countries such as Belgium, Finland, France and Germany.
Transport secretary Grant Shapps said: ‘The next 15 years will be absolutely crucial for slashing emissions from our roads, as we all start to feel the benefits of the transition to a zero-emission future.
‘But before electric cars become the norm, we want to take advantage of reduced CO2 emissions today. This small switch to petrol containing bioethanol at 10% will help drivers across country reduce the environmental impact of every journey.’
However some commentators have also questioned the impact on food supplies and habitats of using more land for biofuels.
RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams said: ‘Introducing E10 as the standard petrol will pose some challenges. There could be as many as 600,000 vehicles on our roads that aren’t compatible with the fuel.
‘Many of these are likely to be owned by those from lower income backgrounds and while it is welcome that E5 petrol is not being phased out altogether, owners of these vehicles will face higher fuel costs – and will also have to hunt out those forecourts that still sell E5.’