A coalition of UK companies and advocacy groups, including Saab, Ford, British Sugar and Friends of the Earth, backed by the Transport and General Workers Union, launched the Bioethanol Declaration on Wednesday.
The campaign calls for the UK government to implement a Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO), requiring the blending of biofuels (ethanol or biodiesel) with petroleum fuels and to support the UK biofuels industry.
The RTFO currently under evaluation by the Department for Transport specifies a 5.75% renewable fuels component by 2010.
As is often the case with these kind of situations, this is a classic “chicken and egg” scenario. Vehicle manufacturers can not introduce cars to market that run on bioethanol if there are no suitable refuelling points, whilst without the cars, retailers will naturally be reluctant to install bioethanol pumps.
At Saab, we are making a significant contribution by developing Saab BioPower technology, which enables our cars to run on E85.
Thanks to the unequivocal legislative support that the Swedish government has provided, Sweden is proof positive that a nationwide bioethanol for transport infrastructure can be put quickly and effectively in place. Now it is time for the UK government to show equal levels of commitment in its steps to meet European-wide ethanol targets."—Gary Axon, Head of Communications, Saab GB
The UK cut the fuel tax by 20p/liter ($1.38/gallon US) for bioethanol starting January 2005. Biofuels supporters welcome the cut, but state that “real progress” requires the “rapid introduction” of the RTFO. (British Sugar)
The supporters launched the campaign to coincide with the UK presidency of the European Union, which starts on 1 July. Prime Minister Blair is insisting that climate change will be one of the top items on his political agenda in that role.
British Sugar has already placed a contract for the design of the UK’s first ethanol production facility. Planned to come on stream in the first quarter of 2007, the plant will be able to produce 55,000 tonnes of ethanol from sugar beet.
The Declaration is supported by Ford, Saab, the Transport and General Workers Union, Friends of the Earth, British Sugar, Renewables East, Regen SW, Dr Jeremy Woods, Bioethanol Ltd, Renewables East, North Energy Associates, the CLA, Roquette, Wessex Grain, the NFU, Transport 2000 and other UK groups.