Alternative fuel guide

The future of driving is changing. But what does it look like? In this guide, we consider some of the alternative forms of fuel that may be used in the long-term.

Motoring advice

2 March 2022

By 2030, in a bid to combat climate change, the UK government aims to ban the sale of petrol and diesel cars. Although sales of hybrid cars won’t be affected, this is a change that all of us should prepare for.

Electric cars are at the forefront of this revolution, but they’re not the only answer. While electric cars are a great option, they’re expensive and rely on charging points. We still need time to adapt, so we’ll still have petrol/diesel powered cars for some time yet. So with the sales of new petrol and diesel cars banned, what is available? Thankfully, there are several fuel alternatives to try. This guide will focus on three substitutes:

What is LPG?

Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) is an umbrella term for propane and butane gas. These gases are natural by-products of oil extraction and refining. At one time, using LPG wasn’t thought about but now we know its true potential.

While ‘liquid gas’ might sound confusing, it just means it’s clear and will turn to liquid when exposed to pressure or cooling. This is what allows it to be stored in tanks.

LPG is utilised to fuel a variety of things. For example, it’s often used for cooking appliances, heating, and industrial machinery. Plus, it can be used as an alternative car fuel.

While expensive to install and service, petrol cars can be easily fitted out to support an LPG system. This system often sits in the boot of a car, allowing the car to act as a ‘dual-fuel’ vehicle.

Should I convert my car to LPG?

As with everything, there are pros and cons. So, are LPG conversions worth it?

Well, to start, LPG cars have a lower carbon footprint than petrol or diesel cars. It produces little to zero black carbon – the second leading cause of climate change. Plus, the fuel cost is definitely eye-catching. Compared to petrol prices, LPG could see your regular petrol/diesel bill cut in half!

Yet, this doesn’t mean LPG cars are more fuel-efficient. You’ll still be using as much fuel as before – it’ll just be cheaper. But, the savings you make now might not benefit you down the line. Cars with LPG conversions prove difficult to sell. This is due to many people not being convinced of LPG’s advantages.

This wariness, along with the lack of government incentives, make LPG cars unpopular. So many fuel stations don’t have LPG fuel stored, making it harder to rely on.

Pros of using LPG

  • Better for the environment
  • Cheaper fuel costs
  • Safer if leaks occur

Cons of using LPG

  • Expensive to install (as much as £2,000)
  • More difficult to find at fuel stations
  • Trouble selling your car

What is biodiesel fuel?

Biodiesel fuel, sometimes called ‘green diesel’, is a renewable, biodegradable fuel. It’s made from all sorts of recycled materials such as cooking oil, animal fats, and soybean oil.

While it’s made from easy to find materials, this doesn’t mean you can whip up a batch straight out of your kitchen. Biodiesel has strict requirements to ensure maximum performance. Biofuel needs to be mixed with short-chain alcohol, such as methanol, to work efficiently.

Biodiesel is a fantastic sustainable alternative to other fossil fuels. The use of it in diesel cars is slowly growing in popularity.

Yet, cars that can run on 100% biofuel are rare. Most manufacturers haven’t widely released specialised cars, so motorists will have to rely on a blended biofuel instead.

Using biodiesel in cars

While fully biodiesel cars aren’t commercially available in the UK, Europe has started rolling out E10. This could prompt the UK to follow suit and increase the percentage of biodiesel in regular diesel to 10%, compared to the standard 5%.

Biofuel is a great answer for environmentally conscious drivers. As a bonus, it’s proven to improve engine efficiency due to its better lubrication.

But, due to biodiesel’s composition, it can freeze in cold temperatures. Although this only applies to pure biodiesel, it’s something to consider, thanks to the UK’s changeable weather conditions.

And lastly, biodiesel is more expensive than regular diesel. It’s also been shown that normal diesel is more effective, providing more miles per tank compared with its eco-friendly counterpart.

Pros of using biodiesel

  • Environmentally friendly
  • More sustainable
  • Good for engine lifespan

Cons of using biodiesel

  • Currently not possible to switch to 100% biodiesel fuel in the UK
  • Can freeze in cold temperatures
  • More expensive

What is renewable diesel?

Due to its name and purpose, renewable diesel is often confused with the above biodiesel. But, while the two are similar, they are different in their production, efficiency, and cleanliness.

Because of this, renewable diesel is sometimes referred to as ‘advanced biofuel’. Although the two are made from similar materials, biofuel doesn’t remove all its waste. Meanwhile, renewable diesel removes all impurities, improving its efficiency and quality.

Also, during its creation, renewable diesel is hydrogenated. This process is identical to the creation of fossil fuels, meaning renewable diesel is just as efficient but can burn far cleaner. This fuel also has 85% less sulfur than ultra-low sulfur diesel.

While this alternative fuel is new to the market, it’s rapidly increasing in popularity thanks to its proficiency and quality. Plus, you can convert overnight, thanks to most diesel engines being compatible with this specific type of fuel.

Hand holding refuelling nozzle inserted into a white car

Renewable diesel in cars

As mentioned above, renewable diesel can be used in diesel cars with no problems. Most diesel engines are compatible with this alternative fuel – so there’s no need for costly car modifications or blended fuels.

Plus, thanks to hydrogenation during production, there’s no worry of it freezing in cold temperatures. The lack of oxygen means renewable diesel is more suitable for cold climates such as the UK.

But, it’s not all positive for renewable diesel. As it’s new, finding a supplier can prove difficult in the UK. Also, if you can find a supplier, what you’ll save from not having to modify the car will be lost on the fuel price. Renewable diesel is the most expensive fuel in this article, even topping petrol and regular diesel.

Plus, its true environmental impact is debated. There’s no doubt that renewable diesel’s emissions are much lower than fossil fuels, but it’s the production that’s in question. Mass producing the materials required for renewable diesel can lead to deforestation and involves carbon-intensive farming. So, it’s only solving one problem while creating another.

Pros of using renewable diesel

  • Cleaner and more efficient than biofuel or fossil fuels
  • Can convert overnight with no modification costs
  • Won’t freeze in cold temperatures

Cons of using renewable diesel

  • Still very new, so limited suppliers in the UK
  • Most expensive on this list
  • Controversy around the true environmental impact


To prepare for the government’s 2030 ban on petrol and diesel cars, it’s good to know all your options. Whether it’s electric cars or alternative fuel, there’s a way to adapt to this change.

There are pros and cons of each fuel mentioned in this guide. Which one is best will depend on your situation. While LPG fuel is the cheapest option, you’ll have to fork out more money upfront to convert your car. On the other hand, you don’t need to modify your vehicle to switch to renewable diesel, but you’ll see an increase in how much you pay for your fuel. And while manufacturers don’t currently support biodiesel, the roll-out of E10 in Europe could spark new interest.

Still, whatever fuel you pick, your car needs to be protected. Learn more about AXA’s car insurance policies.