PARIS: Public anger in France over increasing fuel prices, which gave rise to the anti-government “yellow vest” movement, has further boosted demand for crop-based ethanol fuel from motorists seeking cheaper deals, industry representatives said.
Ethanol, which is blended with gasoline as part of renewable energy policy targets, had already benefited from a favourable environment in France in the past two years.
A decline in diesel demand and the licensing of so-called “flex-fuel” kits to allow cars to run on high-ethanol fuel have contributed to an increase in its use.
Ethanol in France is made using sugar beet or cereal.
Fuel containing up to 10 percent ethanol, known as SP95-E10, reinforced its position last year as the best-selling gasoline type in France, claiming an average 43 percent market share compared with about 39 percent in 2017, ethanol producer group SNPAA said.
The E85 mix, containing up to 85 percent ethanol, saw consumption jump by 55 percent, although it remained a small part of the gasoline market with a share of about 2 percent.
Ethanol fuel has also benefited from French tax breaks that increase with higher blending levels, making E10 and E85 cheaper than other blends, even when factoring in ethanol’s lower fuel efficiency compared with traditional petrol.