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REA defends gasification technology

The Renewable Energy Association (REA) has defended gasification technology in response to a damning report from an anti-incineration campaign group.

A United Kingdom Without Incineration Network (UKWIN) briefing entitled Gasification Failures in the UK: Bankruptcies and Abandonment considered more than a dozen examples of gasification plants that have failed to reach fruition, including Air Products’ high-profile scrapping of its two Teesside facilities in April.

Projects by Energos, Interserve and New Earth Solutions are also detailed in the document. New Earth Solutions and Energos both went into administration while the former was recently taken over. Interserve has left the energy-from-waste sector.

UKWIN national co-ordinator Shlomo Dowen said: “Promoters of gasification and pyrolysis schemes often cite existing and past projects to bolster support for their new proposals, but don’t like to mention that those other projects were actually embarrassing failures.

“Gasification and pyrolysis is an expensive mis-step when it comes to waste management because even if someone ever manages to get the ill-fated technology to work, it would still have all of the problems of more conventional waste incineration.”

But the REA said the failures outlined in the report did not mean the technology was a risk. Policy analyst Mark Sommerfeld maintained it had been proven by other projects across the globe.

He said: “The failure of some projects to date are not endemic to the sector but representative of the boundaries being pushed and the wide range of lessons being learned.

“As a result, today the gasification industry is characterised by innovation – delivering a declining cost base, expanding product ranges and improved performances.

“This will assure the delivery of huge benefits to the UK in the form of renewable products and greater waste management capacity.”

Air Products’ TV1 and TV2 failures threatened to hit Peel Environmental’s application for a gasification plant in Bilsthorpe earlier this year.

Former communities secretary Greg Clark delayed his decision to approve the facility in April due to similarity in its technology to the Air Products plants but confirmed his approval in June.

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