Large amounts of small-scale bioenergy projects were carried out in China's rural areas in light of its national renewable energy policies. These projects applied pyrolysis gasification as the main technology, which turns biomass waste at low costs into biogas. This paper selects seven bioenergy projects in Shandong Province as a case and assesses these projects in terms of economy, technological performance and effectiveness. Results show that these projects have not achieved a satisfying performance after 10 years experience. Many projects have been discontinued. This failure is attributed to a complex of shortcomings in institutional structure, technical level, financial support and social factors. For a more successful future development of bioenergy in rural areas, China should reform its institutional structure, establish a renewable energy market and enhance the technological level of bioenergy projects.