Bio-logical? How environmentally friendly is Super E10?

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Bio-logical? How environmentally friendly is Super E10?
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Bio-logical? How environmentally friendly is Super E10?

Spotlight – How environmentally friendly is Super E10?
Bio-logical? The new E10 fuel

Greenpeace versus Ministry of Environment – both have their arguments on E10. Which are better, who is right?

Michael Schumann


Bio-logical? How environmentally friendly is Super E10?


How environmentally friendly is Super E10?

From all participants in the MOTORRAD survey on the topic “E10 or not – what to do at the gas station?” 95 percent said that E10 would never get into their motorcycle tank. In addition to fear of damage, which was also mentioned by the vast majority of those whose machines were expressly approved by the manufacturer for the new fuel, there was a second reason for rejection: the allegedly poor ecological balance of the “Biofuel”. Half of the respondents also expressed their fear that the increasing demand for renewable raw materials in industrialized nations could lead to a shortage of food in developing countries (selection of answers, see page 103).

Both opponents and supporters of the new fuel are currently trying to collect hard facts to either underpin or refute these points – MOTORRAD asked for an exchange of blows.

Bio-logical? How environmentally friendly is Super E10?


Ursula Heinen-Esser, Parliamentary State Secretary in the Federal Environment Ministry.

Effective environmental protection is only possible if all areas of daily life make a contribution. This also applies to cars and motorcycles. After the addition of biodiesel to diesel fuel was easily increased to up to seven percent, the bioethanol content of gasoline is now to increase from five to ten percent. Since the beginning of 2011 there have been types of petrol with up to ten percent bioethanol – E10 for short. Not everyone likes that, and there is also criticism of biofuel and doubts as to whether E10 really benefits the climate, whether refueling does not make food more expensive and whether rainforests are not cleared so that we can calm our ecological conscience in Germany.

First of all: Only bioethanol is accepted for E10, which is made from petroleum compared to petrol at least 35 percent fewer greenhouse gases caused. This is regulated by law and is also controlled. The calculation also includes side effects, for example the use of fertilizers. 90 percent of bioethanol is made from grain and sugar beet from Germany and the EU and does not come from rainforests. Ten percent is made from sugar cane, which is grown on plantations outside the rainforest.
For food prices, weather-related production downtimes in important producer countries, rising crude oil prices and declining stocks of grain worldwide play a far greater role than the demand for biofuels. According to estimates by the World Food Organization FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization, Red.), Bioenergy is only grown on two percent of the world’s arable land. Wherever conflicts still cannot be resolved, the Federal Government advocates the principle that the Food security is a priority Has.

Conclusion: Biofuel produces fewer greenhouse gases and consumes smaller amounts of the increasingly scarce petroleum. A big plus for the environment.

Bio-logical? How environmentally friendly is Super E10?


Martin Hofstetter, agricultural expert and Special Projects Campaigner from Greenpeace.

According to the UN nutrition organization FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization, Red.), Food prices rose to new record highs worldwide in February 2011. The production of agro-fuel plays a major role in this. If you fill up with ten liters of E10 petrol in Germany, it contains one liter of ethanol, made from the equivalent of three kilograms of grain. Worldwide, 144 million tons of grain were processed into ethanol last year, an amount that could feed 420 million people. Nobody in Germany has to go hungry. But with ethanol you aggravate hunger in other parts of the world.

For the environment, agro-fuel is often worse than conventional fuel. The CO2 balance is more negative than is often shown. Because fuel from arable crops is not climate-neutral. Plants such as wheat and sugar beet bind CO2 from the air, which is only released again when it is burned in the engine. But the field work of tractors and combine harvesters needs diesel, and nitrous oxide is released during fertilization. And the processing of grain in the distillery requires a lot of energy. Therefore, the positive climate contribution is only small, even under optimal conditions.

According to the EU directive, plants used to produce ethanol may not come from freshly cleared jungle areas. But that’s not much use. Because there are no larger fallow land for the cultivation of ethanol plants. The additional demand can only be met by expanding arable farming worldwide. In order to comply with EU regulations, old areas formerly used for food are now used for agro-fuel plants. In return, new areas are cleared or torched for food. This is how climate protection becomes a farce. Primeval forests are natural CO2 stores. To cut them down or even to burn them, increases global CO2 emissions even.

In addition, agro-fuel is absolutely not organic. The plants for the agro-fuel come from monocultures that have been heavily treated with nitrogen and pesticides. A dramatic loss of biodiversity can be observed in arable farming regions all over Germany. And overfertilization pollutes water bodies. The EU directives on agriculture are not enough to prevent this from happening.

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