EurActiv - Letters to the Editor


Regarding ‘Germany hosts crisis ‘summit’ over E10 biofuel‘:

The issue of the E10 biofuel balancing act is nothing at all to do with the fear of motorists for the car manufacturers Merceds Audi VW Saab Volvo etc all have been moving towards the goal of fully flexible fuel sources for their engines.

What is true – and what is more important – is the fact that governments in the EU do not recognise the importance of repricing fuels to reflect the advantages of lower-cost renewable fuels (renewable diesel and renewable ethanol) that can be made and then blended with petro-diesel and petro-gasoline.

Let me take you through the current scenario regarding 10% renewable ethanol blended with 90% petro-gasoline. Firstly, let’s assume for want of argument that the average (sales) cost of petro-gasoline is €2.00 per litre.

Now let’s assume that the average price of renewable ethanol obtained from biomass (not food crops) is €0.30 per litre and that by the time it is presented for sales its cost is €0.50 per litre. By simple substitution 90% petro-gasoline costs €1.80, and 10% renewable ethanol costs €0.05, so adding these together results in a sales cost of €1.85 per litre.

Now, this may not sound a lot, but now do the homework on total fuel costs per year on the assumption that a car is used for 16,000 kilometres per year and its consumption rate is eight kilometres per litre (overall): the savings per car user per year are €300.00! And if the price of fuels for transport increases to, say, €3.00 per litre by 2015, this difference will be €480.00 per year. Similarly, if we use vehicles with larger-engines that then use more fuel the savings increases dramatically…for a three-litre engine car running at six kilomeres per litre the savings would double to €480:00 per year.

Imagine, therefore, the original car engine discussed here, which can be a fully-flexible engine that can run on 90% renewable ethanol and 10% petro-gasoline. Assume that the fuel consumption is impaired by 10% and is now 7.2 kilometres per litre. Assume again that the vehicle does the same total kilometres per year, and assume that the values of the sales price of petro-gasoline is still €2:00 per litre and that for renewable ethanol it is still €0.50 per litre. Doing the same calculation we have savings to the cost of running 16,000 kilometres of fuel equivalent to €2,610.00 per year! (the calculation is represented by savings of 16,000 divided by eight – to get to total litres used at 2000 litres per year and 2000 x 90% of €2.00, giving savings in petro-gasoline costs of €3,600.00 per year, to which is added 2,000 litres of renewable ethanol at €0.50 per litre x 90%, giving an extra cost of €900.00 per year and then by reductions of fuel efficiency by the theoretical 10% – allegedly a statement by the Oil Companies – this works out at a saving of €2,610.00 per car per year.

So look at it again, and think it through. A blended biofuel of 10% ethanol in petro-gasoline should save the motorist €300.00 per year and for a fully-flex vehicle where the renewable ethanol is 90% and petro-gasoline is 10%, the savings increase dramatically to €2610.00 per year.

Now, you may say that this fuel value for renewable ethanol production is not possible! I’m sorry, read on.

There are developments in the production of renewable fuels in making ethanol from biomass in the Netherlands, the UK, Malta and elsewhere, where this is more than achievable and it will happen by 2013 to 2015. All that is needed is for the governments of the EU to pass on these savings to the customer and the motorist, and not let the greedy oil companies deny them the benefit of these savings.

Carol Horner

Private citizen

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