Green godsend, or a vastly damaging and expensive folly? That’s the question that needs asking about the UK’s new ‘eco-friendly’ E10 fuel that is about to dominate the UK’s forecourts as the next standard petrol option.
Containing 10 per cent ethanol, from this month it will increasingly replace the existing standard, E5 (only 5 per cent ethanol), in unleaded pumps at filling stations.
The Government is pushing E10 in a new initiative to better reach its carbon targets. It claims that ethanol, which is obtained from crops such as wheat and other grains and sugar beet, is significantly cleaner than fossil fuels because burning it produces less carbon dioxide (CO2).
Ministers enthusiastically predict that the change to E10 could cut our nation’s CO2 emissions from transport by 750,000 tons a year, the equivalent of taking 350,000 vehicles off the road, but are they right to promote this new fuel so aggressively?
Several scientific experts warn that E10 would cause at least as much damage to the environment as traditional petrol, if not more.
They add that raising petrol’s ethanol levels will also raise the cost of driving for many, and worse, could leave huge numbers of drivers with damaged vehicles or useless ones which can’t use the fuel because the engines are too old.
Meanwhile, many petrol garden mowers and other machinery, such as strimmers and leaf blowers could be rendered inoperable because their engines can’t cope with the fuel and those that drive a 1960s vehicle or even a 1970s motorbike. Neither could run on E10 because of their antiquated engines.
And by keeping old vehicles going, rather than having them melted into scrap and purchasing new ones would be the least damaging environmental path.
But it’s not just ageing jalopies that are in danger. The RAC estimates that some 600,000 petrol vehicles currently on UK roads will be damaged by E10 if they use it.
Furthermore, many modern, even brand new cars could be damaged, even written off, if motorists leave them sitting with E10 in their tanks, and if you don’t believe it, just ask the owners of classic vehicles who already know the damage that ethanol can wreak, even in its weaker E5 form.
Ethanol is an alcohol, and it softens and dries out the rubber parts in a fuel system, causing petrol lines, the small hoses through which fuel is moved, to crack and leak, as well as damaging vital seals in the engine.
Will it be more affordable to make, probably. Will it be more expensive to buy, probably, but it will probably be coming to a gas station near you very soon. And stand by for more car fires on older vehicles as hoses crack and crumble.
Intermixing petrol with alcohol means you’ve already had 3 to 4 per cent of the energy removed. So, call it a price hike because you need to buy more for the same distance, and then your performance car just lost its performance.
But then that sounds like the oil lords we’ve come to admire and adore – count me in and screw me over.
Again this will just hit the poorest people who can’t afford a newer vehicle, but then I suppose that’s the point – intentionally making the masses poorer and this doesn’t just pertain to cars because every eco idea causes more pollution than staying as we are.
New E10 fuel, long term will cause more environmental harm.
Cars going all-electric again causes just as much or more in terms of harm.
Even those so-called ER activists cause environmental harm every time they protest with traffic congestion, causing more pollution because roads are blocked, and then there’s the rubbish that they leave behind – so much for them being concerned about the environment!