No one wants to buy a car until it can be refuelled and no one wants to set up a pump until there are customers. Nevertheless, E85 became an established fuel in Sweden in just over ten years. Sekab was one of the major drivers of this development.
Sweden has better access to biofuels than almost any other country, mainly thanks to our broad investment in E85. The story about E85 in Sweden began in 1994, when Sekab together with the municipality of Örnsköldsvik and the Swedish Ethanol Development Foundation SSEU (later the BioAlcohol Fuel Foundation) imported three Ford Taurus Flexifuel vehicles to Örnsköldsvik. The cars were initially refuelled directly at Sekab’s facility in Örnsköldsvik.
Another 50 flexifuel cars were imported and soon there were as many as 350. Sekab and the BioAlcohol Fuel Foundation, BAFF, were driving forces throughout this work and for a long time were out and about informing and engaging representatives of companies, organisations and the public sector. This work was carried out with small funds but with great commitment. As the number of ethanol cars increased, E85 was also progressively provided at more and more filling stations.
An important part of the impact with respect to increasing the number of flexible-fuel cars was the challenge we posed municipalities and companies around Sweden: if a town succeeded in bringing in ten flexible-fuel cars, OKQ8 and Sekab would ensure that they could be refilled with ethanol at a local filling station. When Ford launched its Ford Focus Flexifuel, this gained momentum. An important reason for this was that, in conjunction with the procurement of flexifuel cars, municipalities, county councils and other players demanded that they should also be able to refuel them with E85. This initiative had a major impact and in 2011 there were 1 740 pumps and 222 000 ethanol cars on our streets.
In 2005, the “Pump Act” had also come into force. The law implies that all filling stations that sell more than a certain volume of petrol and diesel must also supply a renewable fuel. The law has been criticised for having forced filling stations to close, but evaluations show that the so-called filling station deaths were due to other causes. The Pump Act further extended the opportunity to refuel with E85.
For a long time, Sekab delivered the majority of the E85 sold at Swedish petrol stations. As the market matured, it became natural for the fuel companies to gradually take over this purchasing and production. Today, Sekab does not deliver any E85, but instead focuses on ED95 for buses and lorries, ethanol for low blending, and bio-based chemical products.
The E85 that Sekab has delivered over the years has always met with the high sustainability requirements set by the Swedish Energy Agency and the EU’s sustainability regulations, and has almost always lived up to significantly higher requirements.