Germany hosts crisis ‘summit’ over E10 biofuel


Berlin's attempts to implement an EU law requiring a 10% share of biofuels to be used in transport by 2020 have hit a wall as a majority of German drivers are avoiding the new E10 biofuel standard over fears it could damage car engines. A special summit is taking place today to address the issue.

The E10 fuel standard – a mixture of 10% ethanol and 90% gasoline – has been available at German filling stations since February, but consumers are boycotting the new fuel.

German motorists seem to prefer to pay a little bit more for 98 octane fuel or choose to continue using an earlier standard blended with 5% bioethanol (E5).

German car manufacturers' association VDA says the new biofuel is suitable for 93% of vehicles, but a majority of drivers refuse to buy it amid fears that it could damage their engines. 70% of motorists are avoiding the new blend, according to German petroleum association MWV.

German Environment Minister Norbert Röttgen reportedly heavily criticised the fuel industry failing to properly advertise E10 at gas stations, which would have allowed a smoother and more informed transition.

However, the MWV insisted that the petroleum industry was investing a lot of money and effort into trying to achieve the government's biofuel targets and instead blamed the car industry for the problems.

The association argued that information on vehicles' compatibility with the new fuel can only be offered by car manufacturers.

German Economy Minister Rainer Bruederle called representatives from the oil industry, car manufacturers and other interested parties to a "petrol summit" in Berlin today (8 March) to get the E10 programme back on track.

E10 was launched in France in 2009 and a distribution network now covers around 20% of all filling stations there. According to AFP, at the end of 2010 biofuels accounted for 13% of all French sales.

In December 2008, EU leaders reached agreement on a new Renewable Energy Directive, which requires each member state to satisfy 10% of its transport fuel needs from renewable sources, including biofuels, hydrogen and green electricity, by 2020 (see EURACTIV LinksDossier).

  • By 2020: 10% of EU-27 transport fuel needs should be provided by renewable energy sources.

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