There are a number of different biofuels commercially available in the UK for use in vehicles and other types of transport, including inland waterway vessels and mobile machinery.
Biodiesel and bioethanol
Most of the fuel you buy at petrol stations will already have some biodiesel or bioethanol added to it. Large fuel suppliers have increased the amount of biofuel content in their fuel each year and standard pump fuel in the UK will now contain 10 per cent biodiesel or bioethanol (E10). You can buy fuel with a higher concentration of biodiesel and bioethanol at some outlets. E5 is now only available as "Premium blend".
There are mandatory sustainability criteria that must be met before a biofuel can be given a renewable transport fuel certificate and count towards this total.
You should only use biodiesel that conforms to the recognised European quality standard EN14214 and meets the current diesel specification EN590.
Other transport biofuels
If you want to use other biofuels, for example biogas, you will need to consider installing your own refuelling facilities. There is currently a limited supply of biogas for road transport and there are no public refuelling outlets in the UK.
Several HGV biogas refuelling stations are planned for the future and biogas is expected to become more readily available.
What you must do
Renewable Transport Fuels Obligation (RTFO)
Most fossil fuels used for road transport in the UK are refined or imported by suppliers, and the RTFO puts certain obligations on these suppliers. An obligated supplier (producing more than 450,000 litres of relevant fuel) must prove to the Secretary of State that eligible fuels, i.e.
- the total volume of a wholly renewable fuel
- the portion of a partially renewable biofuel from biomass feedstocks
- the portion of a part Renewable Fuel of Non-Biological Origin (RFNBO), part non RFNBO derived from renewable energy sources,
make up a percentage of the fuel they supply, by producing Renewable Transport Fuel Certificates (RTFCs) at the end of the year. One RTFC is awarded for every litre of biofuel reported, and an obligated supplier can obtain them either by supplying biofuel, or by trading with other biofuel suppliers.
The RTFO programme does not apply if the annual volume of fuel you supply is less than 450,000 litres. You can trade RTFCs with obligated suppliers, providing a potential revenue stream to support the production of biofuel.
The RTFO covers only biofuels used in the transport and non-road mobile machinery (NRMM) sectors.
For more information, see
- Department of Transport: Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation guidance
- Department of Transport: Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO) - compliance, reporting and verification (guidance for 2022 onwards)