E10 fuel is the name of a type of petrol that contains a maximum of 10% bioethanol by volume in addition to fossil petrol. Bioethanol is alcohol that is mainly produced from plant-based raw materials. E10 fuel was introduced in 2011. E10 fuel is available in more and more European countries. In Germany, E10 fuel was introduced in 2011. Drivers visiting other European countries can fill their tanks with E10 fuel in Belgium, Denmark, France, Finland, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, Estonia, Lithuania and Slovakia. Austria, Sweden and Great Britain are currently planning the market launch.
Certified sustainable bioethanol is produced in Europe from renewable raw materials such as feed grain and sugar beets, as well as from waste and residues from agriculture and the food industry. When feed grain and sugar beets are used, only part of the raw material used is processed into bioethanol. The residue is used to produce GMO-free, high-protein animal feed and other co-products, such as biogenic carbon dioxide, gluten, biofertiliser and biomethane.
In Germany, the land needed for feed grain and sugar beet, used to produce bioethanol, was only about 3.0% of the domestic 11.7 million hectares of total cropland in 2020. It is not just bioethanol that is produced from the raw materials feed grain and sugar beets. The second main product is GMO-free animal feed. In addition, neutral alcohol for the chemical industry, biogenic carbonic acid, gluten as well as biofertiliser and biomethane are produced from the raw materials.
Car manufacturers were not required to label their vehicles as E10 fuel compatible until 2018, although more than 95% of registered cars with petrol engines are actually E10 fuel compatible. Uniform fuel labelling throughout Europe with graphic symbols on the tanks of new vehicles and at the pump has been in force since October 2018.
Comparison tests on consumption between E5 fuel and E10 fuel initiated by the Federal German Bioethanol Industry Association (Bundesverband der deutschen Bioethanolwirtschaft - BDBe) in 2019 show that there is no additional consumption in any of the passenger car models tested that is greater than the insignificant cost difference of 0.09 litres per 100 km. The tests were conducted on common passenger car models with high registration numbers from BMW, Ford, Opel, Renault and VW in various vehicle classes. An Opel Corsa, for example, even needs more than 2% less fuel per 100 km with E10 fuel than with E5 fuel. Tests have not confirmed the additional consumption assumed by many people since E10 fuel was introduced, due to the lower calorific value of bioethanol compared to fossil petrol. As early as 2011, independent consumption measurements (TÜV Rheinland and DEKRA) showed no increase in fuel consumption with E10 fuel compared to conventional E5 fuel, which contains up to 5% bioethanol. This means that the initial assumption that the use of E10 fuel would increase consumption by around 5% compared to E5 fuel has not been verified.
E10 fuel is cheaper than conventional E5 fuel petrol throughout Germany. Since the beginning of 2020, the price advantage of E10 fuel over E5 fuel has increased to more than 5 cents/litre nationwide. If consumption remains constant, owners of E10 fuel compatible cars thus have noticeably lower fuel costs when they fill up their tanks with E10 fuel.
Labels warning against mistakenly refuelling with E10 fuel should be understood as a measure to prevent damage. This does not mean that a vehicle will always be damaged if the tank is filled up with E10 fuel by mistake. After E10 fuel was introduced in Germany, the ADAC (German automobile club), conducted a test with a car not approved by the manufacturer for E10 fuel. It was only after a test drive lasting several weeks and around 30,000 kilometres that a defect occurred.
The ADAC (German automobile club) recently stated: “To date, there is not a single known case of a car approved for the fuel suffering damage due to the fuel.”
New vehicles with technical innovations as well as lower fuel consumption and lower CO2 emissions find their way into the vehicle fleet only gradually through new cars registered annually. This also applies for battery-powered vehicles. To reduce CO2 emissions from the current vehicle fleet in the short and medium term, E10 fuel for petrol engines is the only solution immediately available in the current petrol station network.
The Fuel Quality Directive and the Renewable Energy Directive ensure that the raw materials for bioethanol certified in the European Union do not originiate from land that is particularly worthy of protection and that bioethanol significantly reduces greenhouse gas emissions. In 2019, the official greenhouse gas saving with the bioethanol used in Germany was 88.2% compared to the statutory reference value for fossil petrol. On average, 138 g of emissions harmful to the climate are saved per litre of E10 fuel compared to E5 fuel. This represents a greenhouse gas saving of around 145 kg CO2 per year with average mileage of 14,000 km/year and average fuel consumption of 7.5 litres fuel/100 km.
Yes. The European standard for petrol DIN EN 228 guarantees the same quality of E10 fuel in all EU member states, such as Super E10 in Germany and SP95-E10 in France. Bioethanol is the only certified sustainable additive for petrol fuels with officially registered proof.
More than 95% of the bioethanol used in Germany in 2019 was produced from European raw materials. Imported bioethanol from Brazil or the USA, for example, is also subject to the strict German sustainability regulations and must be certified accordingly. The production of bioethanol from plant-based raw materials always goes hand in hand with food production. When alcohol is produced, the plant-based raw materials are also used to produce GMO-free animal feed, among other things. This contributes to EU-wide independence from imports of genetically modified feed.
According to the Fuel Quality Directive and the Renewable Energy Directive cleared rainforest areas and other areas with high nature conservation value are not allowed for growing crops for bioethanol production.
The bioethanol blended with petrol in Germany comes almost exclusively from domestic production or from other EU member states.
In Germany, bioethanol is mainly produced from feed grain and sugar beets, which farmers grow in rotation in line with best practices. Monocultures are eliminated by this regular crop rotation.
More information on the sustainability criteria of certified bioethanol in Germany can be found here:
The water, fertiliser and pesticide needs of agricultural crops depend on which crop is being grown. There is no difference between the agricultural production of plants for food or animal feed and for the production of bioethanol. This means that how the crop is used does not affect the water, fertiliser and pesticide requirements.
Water is also used to process the harvested crop into bioethanol, but most of it is treated and used again. Bioethanol is produced from the starch in feed grain or from the sugar in sugar beets. More than half of the raw materials are used to produce animal feed as well as, e.g. biogenic carbon dioxide, gluten as well as biofertiliser and biomethane.
The European Directive 2009/28 prohibit the cultivation of raw materials for bioethanol production on cleared rainforest areas or on other areas with high nature conservation value. The minimum level of a 50% reduction in CO2 emissions, which is also stipulated in German legislation as a prerequisite for recognition as a biofuel, is far exceeded by bioethanol from domestic production. Bioethanol blended in Germany already achieved a CO2 saving of 88.2% compared to fossil petrol in 2019.
Consumer prices for bread and grain products have risen in Germany in recent years, but using the crops for bioethanol and all co-products is not the reason for this price trend. In Germany, the food price for bread, for example, is comprised of over 60% costs for energy, taxes and trade, around 30% labour costs and less than 7% raw material costs.
Food and agricultural raw material prices are mainly affected by supply and demand, weather-related production fluctuations, oil and gas prices, production costs (including wages) and global economic fluctuations. An example of the influence of weather extremes is the rising market price of wheat due to the drought in Europe in summer 2018.
Food and energy production are not mutually exclusive in the production of bioethanol. For example, in the case of feed grain processing, about one third is used to produce bioethanol; two thirds are used to produce protein-rich animal feed and other products such as yeast, gluten, biogenic carbon dioxide as well as biofertiliser and biomethane.
In 2020, only 4.5% of the German beet harvest was used for the production of bioethanol, while this was the case for 5.8% of the German grain harvest.
There are many reasons for hunger in the world, including weather-related crop failures, structural poverty and (civil) war. Data from the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) show that in industrialised countries 670 million tonnes of food are thrown away unused every year, while in developing countries 630 million tonnes of food spoil over the same period before it can even reach the consumer due to a lack of infrastructure.