France to launch ethanol push with 'green pumps'

25th September 2006, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Sept 25, 2006 (AFP) - France plans to launch an ambitious scheme designed to encourage motorists to put ethanol in their tanks, a major push for "green" technology, the government has announced.

PARIS, Sept 25, 2006 (AFP) - France plans to launch an ambitious scheme designed to encourage motorists to put ethanol in their tanks, a major push for "green" technology, the government has announced.

The initiative, which aims to promote ethanol as an alternative to gasoline, is expected to tempt more drivers to buy ethanol-adapted cars and provide impetus for the creation of a national distribution network.

Speaking on French television channel France 3 on Sunday, French Finance Minister Thierry Breton said: "In a few days, I am going to announce the launch of green ethanol pumps throughout the country."

Sources told AFP on Monday that the plan would be made public before the start of the Paris Motor Show, which opens its doors on Saturday, with Breton most likely to choose Wednesday as the day for an announcement.

In France, the use of ethanol, an alcohol made from wheat, beetroot, corn or sugar cane, is far less than in leading countries such as Brazil or Sweden.

Biofuels, which includes ethanol and the more widely used biodiesel, represent just 1.2 percent of all fuel consumption in France, according to Prolea, a French oils and vegetable product association.

The French government had announced in September that it aimed to increase the amount of ethanol used as a proportion of total fuel to 5.75 percent in 2008 and 7.0 percent in 2010.

The final plan is likely to be influenced by the conclusions of former French Formula One champion, Alain Prost, who Breton said had been preparing a report on the technology that would be delivered to the finance ministry soon.

Asked about the need for consumers to switch to ethanol-enabled cars, Breton said on Sunday: "I've got some nice surprises for French people, for their cars and their taxes."

Biofuels in France already benefit from lower taxation owing to a partial exemption from fuel tax.

Adoption of the technology also depends on the development of new car models able to use ethanol, with the E-85 grade of fuel expected to spur progress.

E-85 is made up of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline, but requires special "flex-fuel" engines that are able to work with the mix of fuels.

Car makers Saab, Ford, Peugeot and Citroen are all set to display cars able to run on E-85 at the Paris Motor Show, but the idea has faced some opposition.

The head of French manufacturer PSA Peugeot Citroen, Jean-Martin Folz, said in May that the idea of a push to sharply increase the number of ethanol-enabled cars in France would be "stupid".

Nevertheless, PSA plans to launch the Peugeot 307 and the Citroen C4 next year that will be able to run on gasoline or E-85.

French rival Renault said in February that 50 percent of its petrol vehicles would be able to run on E-85 by 2009.

In Brazil, the largest producer and exporter of ethanol fuel, 80 percent of new cars sold are able to run on ethanol and the fuel provides 17 percent of the country's fuel needs.

However, some environmentalists and energy experts have cautioned that ethanol is not a panacea for the world's fuel problems, despite its current favour among policy makers looking to reduce consumer dependence on oil products.

Critics have stressed that the production of ethanol requires more energy input than the amount produced and that crop pesticides and fertilizers cause water pollution and other environmental problems.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

 

0 Comments To This Article