E10 German Style

EU quota sets 6.5 percent biofuel content.
By Holly Jessen | February 15, 2011

Some stations in Germany are now selling E10, an increase from E5 which has been available in Germany since 2007. The roll out of E10 started slowly Jan. 1. “It’s coming in, but it was never foreseen that it would be everywhere at the first of January,” says Dietrich Klein, secretary general of the German Bioethanol industry association.

Dieter Bockey, a spokesperson for the UFOP, the union of German oilseed producers, is concerned that education efforts need to be beefed up. He believes the current strategy is insufficient for the introduction of E10 in every member state of the EU. “E10 seems to be becoming more and more a problem in the German market,” he explains. “The consumers are very unsure concerning the use of E10 in their cars.”

Drivers won’t be able to find E10 at all gas stations until each has added the proper labeling and solved certain technical issues. Klein estimates that E10 will be available throughout Germany by early March. The process must be completed by then, he adds, in order to meet the quota of a minimum energy content of 6.25 percent biofuels in diesel and gasoline. Although biodiesel will be used to help fulfill that quota, ethanol is crucial to meeting the quota because biodiesel’s portion is limited to 7 percent of total biofuels volume, Klein says.

E5 will continue to be available at least until 2013 for those cars unable to use E10. The German environment ministry says about 90 percent of vehicles are compatible with E10. That number may actually be even higher, says Rob Vierhout, secretary general of ePURE, the Producers Union of Renewable Ethanol.

The introduction of E10 is part of Germany’s bio-ordinance, which followed an EU directive requiring 10 percent use of renewable energy in road transport by 2020. By 2015 Germany will transition from the current general mandate to one that requires decreasing greenhouse gas emissions from transport fuels via the use of biofuels, Klein says.

The goal is to lower carbon dioxide in exhaust gases as well as to conserve “increasingly scarce” crude oil, according to a press release from the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety. While the country imports most of its crude oil, the feedstocks for biofuels grow in Germany or Europe. "We expect the introduction of E10 to be structured in a consumer-friendly way,” said Federal Environment Minister Norbert Rottgen. “It must therefore be open and transparent, must not be used for a general increase in petrol prices or have detrimental effects for drivers dependent on existing fuel types." 

—Holly Jessen