Biomass gasification and pyrolysis are unproven technologies and receive too much government funding, according to green campaigner Biofuelwatch.
In a report, the group claims that Westminster has made “particularly generous” subsidies available for electricity produced in this manner.
The report details eight biomass gasifiers in the UK that have failed to get off the ground. Even so, it says, at least 14 biomass gasification and pyrolysis plants held planning consent (as of May 2015) and at least two of them were under construction.
The report says: “Biomass gasification and pyrolysis has attracted significant interest from companies – but the technologies have been beset with serious problems. Biomass pyrolysis linked to electricity generation is a new and entirely unproven technology – so far it has not been done successfully anywhere in the world.”
Biofuelwatch says that biomass gasification revolves around the potential for producing clean syngas, and claims a number of recently constructed gasifiers in the UK do not produce syngas and use traditional gas to power turbines.
It also criticises the Green Investment Bank for investing and subsidising such technology and the Government for deregulating the sector to boost energy innovation.
Health and safety and air emission risks have also been linked to both technologies, it is claimed.
“Fires, explosions and excessive pollution have been associated with biomass gasifiers and pyrolysis pilot plants outside the UK.”
The report concludes that investors have been the biggest losers from the failures, including those participating in the Government’s subsidised Enterprise Investment Scheme.
In February, plans for a £23m gasification and pyrolysis plant near Galashiels in Scotland were cancelled partly because the technology was not proven on a commercial scale.