The PRA has moved to allay fuel retailer concerns about misleading information following the government’s consultation on the proposals for the introduction of E10 fuel grade.

Phil Monger, technical director of the PRA, said the Association had been working with the Department for Transport in a dedicated working party determining the best options for introducing E10 and the preparation of a publicity campaign for motorists.

He said the pressure for a mandated introduction with E5 being replaced by E10, has resulted in such a proposal in the latest consultation: "The alternative of an ad hoc introduction by some companies would have left many forecourts disadvantaged due to lack of storage capacity to hold an additional grade," he explained.

As proposed in the consultation, the introduction of E10 should cause little expense to retailers: "E5 may have anything from zero up to 5% ethanol whereas E10 gives a maximum of 10% and the new proposals set a minimum of 5.5% ethanol," he said.

"This latter requirement achieves another PRA objective of having a minimum quantity in the EN 228 standard for petrol. Over recent years, there have been many incidents of phase separation due to an insufficient amount of ethanol to absorb the presence of water which all tanks have through the natural aspiration of a functional storage tank. A minimum of 5.5% should eliminate this occurrence unless there are other reasons for significant water entry. So what will the new proposal for retailers be?"

Monger explained that on the day of introduction, tanks and dispensers currently supplying E5 will need to be relabelled with E10, and dispensers will need also to have a label regarding vehicle compatibility affixed. The wording has yet to be decided.

There will be no need to change the fuel in the tank as E10 only requires a maximum limit. The Motor Fuel (composition and contents) regulations will require the premium grade (E10) to have a minimum quantity of 5.5% ethanol.

"As with the seasonal annex in the EN228 standard, retailers will be expected to be compliant after a maximum of three tanker load replenishments. The requirement for retaining a protection grade of E5 in the 97/98 octane super grade only applies if you already supply two grades of fuel. The number of non-compatible vehicles is likely to be no more than 4% by that time and a high percentage of these will most likely be classic cars and using the super grade already. Some may not even be compatible with E5 and are having to use an additive."

Responding to queries that the additional ethanol content may have a negative impact on your storage system, Monger said: "Not if you’re already stocking E5 and have followed the EI/PRA guidance on storing biofuels. Copies are downloadable from the member section of the PRA website. As the changes are not due to come into force until 2021 we will give further updates from time to time."