It's an often overlooked fact that cars don't have to mean petrol. Alternative fuels have existed for years, the problem being that they are not always readily available.
The Energy Saving Trust can provide more information about the range of alternative fuels suitable for domestic and commercial vehicles, including a refuelling map.
The main alternative fuels include:
- Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) - most suited for cars and light vans rather than heavy vehicles. More information is available from the LP Gas Association.
- Biogas - derived from waste and turned into gas using anaerobic conversion.
- Biodiesel/vegetable oil - processed to run in standard diesel engines. Engines using biodiesel are said to run smoother and last longer. Biodiesel fuels are increasingly available from fuel stations throughout the UK.
- Bioethanol - derived from starches or sugar. Petrol engines can be modified to run on up to 85% bioethanol. The availability of bioethanol in the UK looks set to increase. (In Brazil, 60% of new cars sold are 100% ethanol fuelled).
- Electric vehicles - manufacturers are in a race to really crack this option and make it widely viable. Battery technology is improving and ideally all power for electric cars should come from renewable sources. But it's still early days on this one.