New report deals with barriers for increased use of high biofuel blends in Sweden

In order to meet future environmental targets and reduce dependence on fossil fuels, biofuels are likely to represent a significant part of the fleet, both through the low admixture during a transi­tional phase, but increasingly with high biofuel blends to phase out fossil fuels.

A newly finished project within the collaborative research program Renewable transportation fuels and systems (Förnybara drivmedel och system) run by f3 centre and the Swedish Energy Agency has had the purpose of developing a better understanding of the barriers that currently exists for an increased use of high blend ethanol (especially E85) and ethanol vehicles and by ex­tension other similar vehicle using high biofuel blends. Ethanol is an important fuel in the global market and large investments have been made around the world, including Sweden.

The project's title is Barriers to an increased utilisation of high biofuel blends in the Swedish vehicle fleet and it has been lead by Åsa Kastensson, Bio4energy/LTU, with participants also from Lund University and Lanmännen. The base for the analysis consists of a survey among 1200 flexfuelcar owners, interviews with stakeholders and analysis of secondary data and scientific literature, reports, decisions, and media reporting.

The results show that the pricing of an alternative high blend biofuel must be lower than its fossil option if it should be chosen by consumers. However, a comparison between the consumption of E85 and its price difference with petrol shows that this is not enough. Uncertainty about ethanol's climate performance means that some consumers are not sure if they should choose this fuel. Also, uncertainties about the causes of technical problems in the engine affect the consumers choice of fuel. The media coverage and debate on ethanol can probably partly be seen as an important factor in both consumers' and companies' approach and/or attitude towards ethanol. Additionally, the introduction and removal of policy instruments and incentives, affect different kinds of investments that either facilitate or obstruct for the availability of and/or possibility to choose ethanol as a fuel.

Hence, the study's general conclusion is that a number of factors need to be taken into account in order for Sweden to have high-powered biofuels in the future vehicle fleet that avoids following the sharp decline of E85 in recent years. The full report can be accessed here (in Swedish, with a short English summary).