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Investigation Disproves Payments To ’Phantom’ AD Plants


With large subsidies available for anaerobic digestion plants, to ensure their pressure vacuum relief valves are always operating well among other functions, claims from the BBC that ’phantom’ plants were receiving lucrative pots of money through a scheme had to be quickly investigated.

However, according to the Department for Economy, this isn’t necessarily true. Its investigation has disproved that the Northern Ireland Renewable Obligation scheme (NIRO) had been placing payments with plants that did not exist, however, it did find that certain smaller plants needed to be moved onto a less lucrative subsidies.

The BBC’s original accusation said that eight payments were being made to plants that ’existed in name only’, while a whistle-blower also made allegations about a  spike of turbine applications which came before the scheme finally closed, with 300, which were not actually connected to the grid, looking for approval.

The Department of Economy has been checking the NIRO scheme’s value for money since 2017, and out of 23,500 generators, have found only a small number at risk. Only 30 of the 300 concerned made it into the scheme, and the DfE investigation will continue to focus on just 10 which are deemed at risk. Just 89 of 23,500 awarded subsidies were AD plants – the rest were wind turbines.

The BBC claims that the risks associated with the NIRO scheme are negligible compared to the Renewable Heat Incentive Scheme, as the former has already closed. The RHI scheme looked to incentivise businesses to use renewable energy sources, however, it drastically overspent through failures in procedure, at the cost of the tax payer and benefit of businesses who were simply heating their properties.