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Future of the British bioethanol industry

Published Tuesday, January 15, 2019

This pack has been produced ahead of the debate to be held in Westminster Hall on Wednesday 16 January 2019 from 2.30-4pm on the future of the British bioethanol industry. The debate will be opened by Nic Dakin MP.

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  • Bioethanol is a fuel produced from plant sources, such as sugar. As a plant based fuel, bioethanol can provide an alternative to fossil fuels such as petrol, and can have lower emissions, depending on how it is produced.
  • The EU Renewable Energy Directive includes a statutory target that 10% of transport fuel by 2020 must come from renewable sources such as electricity, hydrogen, and biofuels like bioethanol. Due to concerns about land use change to produce biofuels, the proportion of biofuels that can count towards the target is limited to 7%.
  • The UK’s Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO) requires suppliers to secure a proportion of fuel from renewable sources. The RTFO has been amended several times to change the fuel proportion and add sustainability criteria for biofuels.
  • One way suppliers can meet their RTFO targets is by blending bioethanol into petrol. The current petrol fuel standard, EN228, permits fuel suppliers to supply two types of petrol, containing either up to 5% ethanol (known as E5) or up to 10% ethanol (E10). However, despite being sold in the EU and elsewhere in the world, E10 is not widely available in the UK. The UK Government consulted in 2018 on E10 petrol and have said they will respond in 2019.
  • Advocates of bioethanol say it’s a low carbon fuel and can contribute to a British industry, such as agriculture.
  • Critics express concern about the low carbon credentials of biofuels, especially in the case of land use change. There is also concern on the impact of the rollout on consumers, as although the vast majority of cars can use E10, not all can.
  • Some of the UK’s bioethanol plants have ceased production in 2018. Media coverage cites a number of causes, such as low bioethanol prices, but also a slow pace of change on Government bioethanol policy.

Commons Debate packs CDP-2019-0004

Authors: Nikki Sutherland; Suzanna Hinson; Philip Brien

Topics: Agriculture, Energy, Industry, Renewable energy

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