Zero emission vehicles and alternative fuels

Advantages of biofuels for vehicles


Transport biofuels are a renewable alternative to limited resources of fossil fuels. They can be liquid or gas and can help to reduce your business transport emissions.

Biofuels are produced from energy crops or organic waste. Vehicle carbon emissions from biofuel combustion are classed as zero because carbon dioxide has been used in plant growth, creating a closed loop in the carbon cycle.

The overall impact that biofuels have on reducing greenhouse gas emissions will depend on where they come from and the way they are produced.

Biofuels are currently blended with conventional petrol, diesel and natural gas in the Northern Ireland. Only some biofuels are commercially available in Northern Ireland for use in vehicles.

Biodiesel and bioethanol

Biodiesel is a substitute fuel produced for diesel engines. It is a renewable fuel made from vegetable oil crops, for example rapeseed or soybean. You can also make biodiesel from waste cooking oils. It doesn't contain petroleum and is biodegradable.

Bioethanol is a renewable fuel used as a petrol substitute for vehicles. It is made from starches or sugar, for example corn or sugar cane. It is biodegradable and less toxic and explosive than petrol.

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 Northern Ireland now contains 10 per cent biodiesel or bioethanol (E10). E5 is now only available as "Premium blend".

You can buy fuel with a higher concentration of biodiesel and bioethanol at some outlets. You should contact your vehicle manufacturer before using a higher blend as it could affect engine performance and warranty if your engine is not modified.

You should only use biodiesel that conforms to the recognised European quality standard EN14214 and meets the current diesel specification EN590.


Biogas is a renewable fuel made from biodegradable materials including maize crops and wastes, such as municipal or food wastes. The main component of biogas is methane. Biogas can be purified to produce liquid biomethane (LBM), which can be used as a vehicle fuel. You can also purify landfill gas to produce biomethane.

Biomethane can be stored as a compressed gas for road vehicles. Any vehicle that can operate on compressed natural gas (CNG) or liquefied natural gas (LNG) can run on LBM.

If you want to use other biofuels, for example biogas, you will need to consider installing your own refuelling facilities.