The Government is expected to announce additional subsidies on biofuels within the next few months, which means vehicles powered with green derivatives such as sunflower oil could become more popular as fleet choices.
The UK has already introduced a number of measures to spur interest in biofuels, mainly revolving around fuel duty incentives.
In July 2002 the Government introduced a 20p per litre duty incentive on biodiesel, which had the desired effect of increasing sales. Sales figures currently stand at two million litres per month but the Government estimates that the UK could be using about 12 million litres a month by 2005, a six-fold increase over current biofuel sales.
And there’s more to come. Fleets were asked to take part in consultation back in April. The Government sought views on whether cutting fuel duty was the most effective method of promoting biofuels, whether more should be done to support biofuel production through increased grants, and whether the Government should provide more information on biofuels and other renewable fuels.
The move is part of an EU drive to increase biofuel use throughout Europe. A directive states that 2% of fuel use should be biodiesel by 2005, rising to 5.75% by 2010.
Experts suggest that to meet these targets, about 10% of arable farmland in England would need to be converted to grow crops for the fuel.
A spokesman from the Department for Transport (DfT), said: ‘There are a number of factors which need to be considered. Achieving the European Union’s reference values would not be straightforward given that many motor manufacturers do not warrant their vehicles to run on biofuel blends higher than 5%.’
Despite this, the DfT has completed the consultation and already has high targets for the development of biofuels.
The DfT spokesman, said: ‘There is no question that biofuels could start delivering significant carbon savings by 2010. The UK biofuels sector is confident that, given sufficient support, it could readily produce enough biofuel to achieve a 5% sales target by 2010.
‘This in turn could mean carbon savings of close to one million tonnes, which equates to 3% of total road transport emissions. There would be other benefits to the rural economy in terms of increased fuel security and diversity of supply.’
Biofuels are combined with traditional fuel such as petrol and diesel to power vehicles and ministers are aiming to push their use in a bid to cut carbon dioxide emissions.
Most biodiesel is used in a blend of up to 5% but any higher than this can affect engine performance.