More Ethanol Could Reduce GHG ​Emissions ​By 14 Percent, New Study Shows

(3BL Media/Justmeans) - ​There has always been a controversy around the ethanol in relation to its environmental credentials. Detractors say it could actually be worse than fossil fuel while supporters ​claim that​, by and large, it ​can help ​clean​ up transportation​, a major source of emissions that cause global warming.

​​A new study corroborates the latter view that ethanol is actually cleaner and could help reduce emissions​. It recommends policy-makers deploy high-octane E20 fuel and vehicles with E20 optimised engines to reach transport emissions targets by 2030 and beyond to 2050.

Compiled by global consultancy Ricardo Energy & Environment, it has found that if Europe increased its use of ethanol, its transport network could see a reduction of 14.1 percent in terms of emissions, even after possible land use change (ILUC) emissions have been taken into account.

Commissioned by ​the ​European renewable ethanol association ePURE, the study delved into the possible environmental benefits of an increase of ethanol in European transport up to 2030. The report removed artificial constraints on ethanol uptake by focusing on the introduction of E20 high-octane fuel, a fuel blend containing 20 percent ethanol and 80 percent petrol, and vehicles with engines optimi​z​ed to run more efficiently.

Ethanol could be part of the EU’s plan to reduce emissions by 40 percent across the whole economic spectrum. This will require massive adjustments to transport as between 12 and 20​ percent ​of GHG reductions are need​ed​ in transport.

The study found that even after factoring in estimates of ILUC emissions, the use of biofuels provides significant ‘well-to-wheel’ GHG reductions compared with fossil based fuels such as petrol and diesel.

Increasing the share of ethanol beyond 2020 levels further reduces GHG emissions, the report says. The highest GHG reductions in transport (14.1%) compared to a 2005 baseline are achieved when ethanol use is increased through the introduction of E20. Without ethanol, a GHG reduction would be 9.3 percent.

To put it in a nutshell, the reasons more ethanol in Europe could help reduce emissions are the relatively low ILUC impact and the improved efficiency of E20 optimized vehicles that result in lower net fue​l​ consumption. These strengthen the case for methanol, similarly to​ a previous​ meta-analysis by the University of Vienna, which found that ethanol makes petrol burn more cleanly and efficiently.

Image credit: ePURE