Thermochemical gasification of biomass can produce low, medium and high calorific value gases. The characteristics, applications and potential of the different processes and reactor types are discussed. The introduction of biomass gasification on a large or intermediate scale for the production of power, synthetic natural gas (SNG), methanol etc. will depend on developments in coal and (municipal) solid waste gasification and on the price of biomass. Biomass - and especially wood - is a clean fuel and, therefore, its direct combustion using modern equipment will be a strong competitor for energy generation via gasification. Gasification is also attractive for small scale, power and power-heat generation and developments necessary for its widespread acceptance are discussed. It is further concluded that, on the small and intermediate scale, new processes which require minimum feedstock preparation and preferentially producing medium calorific value gas without the use of oxygen, should be developed.