UK fuel stations will be allowed to sell “eco-friendly” petrol with a higher bioethanol content from September, the government has confirmed. After years of lobbying and consultation, the ‘E10’ petrol will finally hit the UK market, despite being used in other countries for some time.

The E5 petrol we currently use in the UK is made with five percent bioethanol, which is a synthetic fuel made from materials including low-grade grains, sugars and waste wood. However, the new fuel will double that content to 10 percent, in a move the Department for Transport (DfT) claims will cut transport carbon dioxide emissions by 750,000 tonnes per year.

If that prediction proves accurate, it will be a saving equivalent to removing 350,000 cars from UK roads. Or, to put that into context, that’s like removing every car currently registered in North Yorkshire – England’s largest county.

Woman refuelling at petrol station

“We’re going further and faster than ever to cut emissions from our roads, cleaning up our air as we accelerate towards a zero-emission transport future,” said Transport Secretary Grant Shapps. “Although more and more motorists are driving electric vehicles, there are steps we can take to reduce emissions from the millions of vehicles already on our roads – the small switch to E10 petrol will help drivers across the country reduce the environmental impact of every journey, as we build back greener.”

The DfT has made provision, however, for the cars that will not be able to run on the new E10 fuel. Although most petrol cars will cope with the new grade of petrol, some classic cars and some vehicles built before or during the early 2000s will need to continue using E5 fuel. As a result, the government says E5 will still be offered in the guise of so-called ‘super unleaded’, the premium-grade fuels sold by forecourts.

Woman filling up her car at petrol station

For those unsure of whether their car can use E10 petrol, the government has developed a checking service allowing drivers to find out which fuel is most appropriate. It’s estimated that around 700,000 petrol-powered cars in the UK cannot use E10 petrol and will still have to use E5.

The move has been welcomed by the UK car industry, after an industry body called the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said the change would help the nation reduce pollution from the cars already on the roads of the UK.

“The announcement today confirming E10 petrol will be available for motorists from this September is another step towards the 2050 net zero target,” said SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes. “Its introduction is significant in that it assists with the decarbonisation of the existing UK car parc, as well as those new cars powered by petrol engines.

“Vehicle manufacturers have been preparing for its introduction for many years so drivers can be reassured that it is compatible with most cars currently on the road. Together with the introduction of new electrified vehicles, the range of which is accelerating rapidly, this new fuel will help reduce the overall emissions of road transport for many years to come.”

Man fills petrol tank of car