Biofuels use and supply
Blended in small quantities into fossil fuels, ethanol and biodiesel can be safely used in today’s road vehicles. Biofuels used in the UK are sourced from many feedstocks originating from over 30 countries. In 2009/10 3.33% of the fuel used in road vehicles was biofuel.
Blending and volumes
Currently blends of up to seven percent biodiesel and five percent bioethanol can be sold without additional labelling. It is also possible to use higher blends of biofuel such as B100 which is 100% biodiesel and E85 which is 85% ethanol, but this may require modifications to engines. A number of vehicle manufacturers are already producing ‘E85 flex-fuel vehicles’ which can run on any petrol containing anything from zero to 85 per cent ethanol. There are examples elsewhere in the world of bioethanol being used extensively as a road fuel. In Brazil where there is a well-established ethanol market, virtually all cars run on 30% or higher blends.
Biodiesel is available as blends of much higher than seven per cent at a limited number of outlets in the UK. These blends must be clearly labelled. The Energy Saving Trust provides links to web resources listing some of these outlets and there are a number of independent websites that publish directories of biodiesel suppliers.
Verified statistics published for 2009/10 show that 3.33% of the total road fuel supplied to the UK was biofuel. Most (71%) was supplied as biodiesel with almost all of the remainder supplied as bioethanol. Biogas was also supplied in small volumes (less than 1% of the total). The total volume of biodiesel supplied in 2009/10 was 1,568 million litres. Further details on supply can be found at data on supply of biofuels
Detailed guidance concerning biofuel blended in Gas Oil for use in Non-Road Mobile Machinery is available in the archive link below:
Guidance including a flowchart describing the gas oil supply chain, which aims at informing gas oil users about the various grades and standards of gas oil that suppliers and distributors may be able to supply, features in the following document:
Source of UK biofuels
In 2009/10 biofuels were supplied from over 30 different countries, and at least 16 feedstocks. The number of countries supplying biofuel has continued to increase since then. Most biofuel currently supplied to the UK is biodiesel. Bioethanol requires separate infrastructure in addition to that used in the supply of petrol, whereas biodiesel can share the infrastructure used for fossil diesel. Once the infrastructure is in place to deliver bioethanol, it tends to be cheaper to supply to market than biodiesel. As more companies invest in the necessary infrastructure, bioethanol has begun to increase its share of the market. In 2009/10 the major biodiesel feedstocks were soy, oilseed rape, tallow, palm and used cooking oil (UCO). Most soy came from the Argentina, the USA and Brazil. Most oilseed rape came from Europe, predominantly Germany and the UK. Most tallow came from the US and the UK. Most palm came from Malaysia and Indonesia. UCO tends to come from Britain but some is imported.
The major bioethanol feedstocks in 2009/10 were sugar cane, sugar beet, corn and wheat. Most sugar cane came from Brazil. Sugar beet came from the UK and, to a lesser extent, other EU countries. Most wheat used for ethanol production came from the UK and France. The USA was the largest supplier of corn for bioethanol.