The plant-based ethanol content of all petrol sold in Ireland is to be doubled from 5% to 10% from the start of April after the required legislation was passed by the Dáil yesterday.

This is likely to pose problems for some older models of cars, classic vehicles, some smaller mopeds with an engine size of 50CC or under, as well as certain gardening, marine, or aviation equipment engines and generators.

Fuels for Ireland Chief Executive Kevin McPartlan says he is concerned that not enough has been done to inform motorists about the fuel in advance of its introduction.

He is calling for a public information campaign to educate motorists and others to address any concerns about the effect of switching to so-called E10 petrol fuel.

The introduction of E10 petrol will only apply to petrol and will not affect diesel.

The target of doubling the blend proportion of ethanol in petrol is included in the Climate Action Plan as part of the measures to achieve a 51% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030.

The move will deliver an immediate climate-change mitigation impact by doubling the amount of renewable fuel used by all petrol vehicles.

The vast majority of petrol cars are compatible with E10 and there is no need to adapt them to enable them to run on this lower-carbon fuel.

E10 petrol is already widely available in over 15 European countries and was introduced in Northern Ireland last year and in Britain in 2021.

While most cars and motorcycles manufactured since the late 1990s are designed for sustained use of E10, this may not be the case for all, for example:

  • Classic vehicles
  • some specific models, particularly those from the early 2000s
  • some mopeds, particularly those with an engine size of 50cc or under
  • certain gardening, marine or aviation equipment, engines or generators

Newer vehicles usually contain information on the recommended fuel to use inside the fuel cap.

For older vehicles owners may have to consult vehicle or equipment manuals.

Because of the lower energy content of bioethanol compared to the fossil fuel equivalent petrol there is a slight increase of about 1-2% in fuel consumption when using E10 petrol.

CO2 is one of the greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change and the main benefit of E10 petrol is that it reduces overall levels of CO2-based vehicle emissions.

By blending petrol with up to 10% renewable ethanol, less fossil fuel is needed, helping to reduce carbon emissions and meet climate change targets.

The Department of Transport has said a statutory consultation campaign will start on 3 March about the introduction of E10 petrol and that a public information campaign will run throughout the month of March before the new motor fuel is introduced on 1 April.

The "statutory consultation" involves the publication of the required regulations.