Public perception of waste to energy facilities and confusion with incineration has been a major barrier to commercial uptake of gasification facilities being developed in the UK. This is in stark contrast to Germany, where such projects provoke little controversy.
While plasma gasification seems to offer many advantages that would seem appealing to major waste management companies, getting a commercial scale facility up and running in the UK is still proving a challenge.
This was the sentiment expressed by Andrew Morris, finance and commercial director at UK- based Advanced Plasma Power (APP) at the Energy from Biomass and Waste Conference in London.
According to Morris, many of those in the 'anti' camp do not differentiate, or understand the significant distinctions between gasification technologies and simple incineration, and this has led to costly difficulties in acquiring planning consent from local authorities.
'If we can find a cheaper and easier way to get the plans through, it will be a major advantage to us over incineration,' Morris said.
According to Morris, while APP has two projects in the pipeline on the continent, it has yet to make a UK planning application, but does have a successful demonstration facility for its patented Gasplasma process at its Swindon site.
In contrast, Roland Möller of German clean energy specialist, Ecoloop spoke about a full scale, 32 MW commercial pilot in Germany for the company's pyrolysis technology which is currently under construction. Located between three lime plants, the syngas produced by the waste plastic and biomass fuelled facility will be used to fire four lime kilns.
According to Möller there was no problem gaining planning consent for the facility, and no objections from the public. Indeed, it took Ecoloop just two to three months to secure five million Euros of government funding.
The only concerns that were raised about the project revolved around the failure of several previous gasification projects, and this said Möller did cause some caution.