E10 is a fuel mixture of 10% anhydrous ethanol and 90% gasoline that can be used in the internal combustion engines of most vehicles without the need for modification on the engine or fuel system.

The product can be introduced overnight; it is suited to all petrol cars; there would be no cost to the consumer nor any loss of revenue to the exchequer; there would be no requirement to change infrastructure or logistics; it would reduce fossil emissions by 150,000t CO2eq – the equivalent to taking 50,000 cars off the road; it would be good for the farm economy and has the potential to reduce EU fines by €25 million.

These were the sentiments expressed by Jim Power during the launch of his new report: ‘The Role of Ethanol in Ireland’s Climate Action Programme’ – which was commissioned by Ethanol Europe – earlier this week.

The company is currently focused on an awareness campaign that seeks to highlight the utilisation of ethanol production as a climate solution.

Power, meanwhile, said that Ireland’s international climate obligations were clear – reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 20% relative to 2005 levels for areas outside of electricity and to achieve a 16% renewable energy share of gross energy consumption by 2020.

‘A compelling solution’

He also pointed out that under new EU legislation – from 2020 to 2030 – Ireland will be aiming for 32% renewable energy across all sectors – 14% in transport by 2030 and a 40% cut in overall emissions.

Ethanol provides a very compelling partial solution to Ireland’s transport targets.

Power continued: “The country currently has 5% ethanol in its petrol which was introduced without any adverse effects in 2005. It would now make sense for Ireland to move to E10 for a number of reasons.”

Those reasons, Power adds, include the fact that E10 would help Ireland move towards its RES-T targets and avoid fines or financial commitments.

Dependence on imports

He also pointed to how the product could reduce the EU’s dependence on imported energy and decrease the energy import bill; and provide an alternative activity and source of income for Irish farmers.

E10 – and higher – works well in many other countries and has had no adverse impacts on engine performance; unlike palm oil it does not pose an environmental threat.

Power added: “It is difficult to understand why E10 is not accepted by the Irish Government as the way forward for Ireland’s transport climate obligations.

“It is my strongly held view that ethanol should be accepted and taken on board as a solution for Ireland – and a solution that would have many positive direct and indirect effects.”

‘Acting with urgency’

The well-known chief economist then pointed to the importance of policy makers everywhere “acting aggressively and with greater urgency” to GHG emissions while seeking to reverse the drivers of climate change.

As a small country Ireland on its own cannot reverse climate change.

Power continued: “However, as a country that does punch above its weight in many different spheres it could become a leader in fighting climate change.

“Unfortunately, though, Ireland is currently a laggard and despite considerable rhetoric, its progress in meeting its international obligations is pathetic.

“This is particularly true in relation to the transport sector which is the biggest contributor to GHG emissions.”