Biofuelwatch has produced a 40-page report entitled “Biomass Gasification and Pyrolysis: How UK Support for ‘Energy Innovation’ Leads to Business Failures and Particularly Inefficient and Dirty Biomass Power Stations”. 

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A 2-page Executive Summary is available from http://www.biofuelwatch.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/Biomass-gasification-and-pyrolysis-ES.pdf and the full report can be downloaded from: http://www.biofuelwatch.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/Biomass-gasification-and-pyrolysis-formatted-full-report.pdf

The report includes an overview of the two technologies classed as ‘advanced biomass conversion’: biomass gasification and biomass pyrolysis, and includes a brief global and historical overview of the development of both, looking at whether or not such plants have been operated successfully in other countries.

This is followed by a discussion of how efficient and clean – or otherwise – biomass gasifiers and pyrolysis plants can be expected to be and what determines their efficiency levels and air emissions. This general overview is then followed by an in-depth discussion of the experience of failed and proposed biomass gasification and pyrolysis plants in the UK.

The Report poses a number of questions, including:

  • Have the lessons from the failed projects been learned?
  • What are the chances of the planned new developments overcoming the problems encountered in the past?
  • Would the plants that are being built or proposed produce more efficient and cleaner energy from biomass than conventional power stations? And finally,
  • What lessons can be drawn from the UK’s policy to incentivise ‘advanced biomass conversion’ plants?

Biofuelwatch has also produced an Open Letter to the Green Investment Bank (GIB) posing a series of questions about GIB support for biomass gasification in general and about the GIB’s investment in the “BioPower Plant” proposed for Tyseley, Birmingham.

According to the Report’s author Almuth Ernsting: “Biomass and waste gasification and pyrolysis are being heavily promoted by the UK government, and particularly generous subsidies have been made available for electricity generation from these technologies. Yet far from encouraging ‘energy innovation’, UK government policies and support measures in this sector have ended up encouraging investment in startup companies which have lost investors tens of millions of pounds, in a spate of development proposals for and investments in plants which would be less efficient than most existing biomass plants and potentially dirtier and more dangerous to operate. And after more than a decade of strong support for both technologies, they have not contributed anything to energy generation”.

To view a map of proposed, abandoned and failed biomass gasification and pyrolysis projects visit: http://www.biofuelwatch.org.uk/wp-content/maps/uk-advanced-conversion.html

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