E10 petrol should be available on Irish forecourts by the start of April, assuming that a public consultation before the introduction of legislation goes smoothly. The Republic is behind the rest of Europe, Britain, and the North in introducing E10.
What is E10? It’s unleaded petrol with a higher concentration of plant-based ethanol, which helps to reduce its carbon footprint. All unleaded fuel in Ireland is currently sold in E5 specification, which has a five per cent blend of ethanol. E10, unsurprisingly, has 10 per cent.
That extra bit of ethanol is crucial. By using ethanol made from distilling plants, it means that ten per cent of your fuel is, theoretically, carbon-neutral and the Department of Transport estimates that by 2030, E10 — and other forms of bio-fuel including bio-diesel and Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil (HVO) could save more than one-million tonnes of CO2 emissions.
Many have raised concerns about E10, though. Ethanol has a corrosive effect on some plastic, rubber, and metal parts in a car’s engine and fuel system leading to worries about breakdowns and even fires. Those worries are being dismissed by experts, though.
“A US EPA report notes that in 1979 E10 was approved by the US government for use in all existing and new vehicles, 44 years ago,” James Cogan, industry and policy advisor to the ClonBio Group told BreakingNews.ie.
"For the last five to 10 years motorists have had no choice but E10 and that today the choice for motorists is between E10 and higher blend E15 and E85 gasoline. There have been no cases or claims against fuel or vehicle suppliers relating to E10. Old car compatibility issues are unknown in the USA, where they have 290 million petrol cars using E10, of which 70-million are over the age of 16, and 10-million are over the age of 30. US and European cars use the exact same technologies and components.”
Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan said: “While there has seen a big uptake in electric vehicles, we need to continue with measures that can have an immediate impact on emission from vehicles that are already on Irish roads. Measures such as moving to E10 petrol mean that we can reduce our emissions from transport further, move us closer to reaching our climate targets. It also means that we are in step with Northern Ireland, the UK and many other European countries who have already moved in this direction.”
Worries that the growth of crops for E10 and other bio-fuels could push farmers into abandoning vital food crops have also been allayed. Fuels For Ireland, the industry body that represents fuel retailers here, told BreakingNews.ie: “It's not the case that it's taking extra land to grow these grains that you know, it's a co-product of typically animal food.”