* Germany moves to speed up incentive cuts amid solar boom
* Environment Min opposed to any caps on installations
* Roettgen wants to keep 2.5-3.5 gw/year corrdor unchanged
By Markus Wacket
BERLIN, Jan 25 German environment minister
Norbert Roettgen wants to bring forward reductions in the
country's incentives for solar power by three months to April 1
in light of the continued strong expansion in the world's
But Roettgen said he wants to leave the corridor for new
photovoltaic installations unchanged at between 2.5 gigawatt to
3.5 gigawatt per year, rebuffing a demand from the Free Democrat
coalition partners to cap new installations at 1 gw per year.
Roettgen, a conservative ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel,
said he was opposed to capping installations in Germany at 1 gw
per year as Economy Minister Philipp Roesler, the leader of the
FDP coalition partners, has demanded.
"My goal is to change the law effective April 1," Roettgen
told journalists after a meeting with Christian Democrat members
of parliament to discuss speeding up cuts in the "feed-in
tariff" (FIT), the lifeblood for the industry until photovoltaic
prices fall to levels similar to conventional power production.
"It's important that we act quickly," added Roettgen. "A
concrete cap would choke off the industry," he said, referring
to the sector where more than 100,000 jobs have been created in
the last decade.
Roesler warned against trying to cut too much too soon. He
said that it was important that the changes are backed by the
upper house of parliament, where support from opposition parties
will be needed to pass the measure quickly.
GERMANY ADDS RECORD 7.5 GW IN 2011
Germany added a record 7.5 gw of photovoltaic installations
in 2011 after setting a previous record of 7.4 gw in 2010.
Germany now gets about 4 percent of its electricity from solar
power. Germany has a total of about 25 gw of installed
photovoltaic capacity -- about half of the world's total.
The German government has set a target of 66 gw by 2030.
Another senior CDU member of parliament, Joachim Pfeiffer,
told reporters after the meeting that the CDU deputies were in
broad agreement with Roesler's proposal and the need to move
forward cuts in the FIT.
But Pfeiffer said there were different proposals on how much
the FIT should be lowered this year with a range from a little
bit more than 10 percent to as much as 40 percent.
The FIT has been falling by between 15 and 30 percent in
recent years, depending upon how much solar capacity is added in
the previous year.
Producers of photovoltaic electricity are guaranteed fixed
rates for 20 years from the point the solar power systems are
installed. The FIT in 2012 is 24.43 cents per kilowatt hour,
down from 49 cents for systems installed in 2007.
Electricity in Germany costs about 23 cents per kw/h,
meaning grid parity has nearly been achieved faster than
The costs for solar power are paid for by consumers, who pay
about 2 cents per kw/h on top of their electricity bills for
photovoltaic producers. Germany gets about 20 percent of its
electricity from renewable sources such as wind, biomass and
"We want to see the photovoltaic sector continue to develop
with innovation," Roettgen said. "I believe that this is
Roettgen said that he would work on the details of
accelerating the FIT together with Roesler, the Economy
Minister. He said they would meet next week to work on it.
Roettgen said that there was not yet any concrete plan for
the level of cuts he aims for on April 1. It was also still
unclear if the future reductions would be made each month in
smaller steps or remain larger and on a semi-annual basis as
they have been in recent years.
Hans-Josef Fell, a member of the opposition Greens party and
expert for energy issues, said that it would be difficult to see
changes passing by April 1. He added that the plans would also
"It's unrealistic to believe that a new draft law can be
ready at the end of February and that the law will take effect
on April 1," Fell said. "It's all just an early April Fools'
Roesler said he is especially eager to see cuts in the large
field solar power installations that already receive lower
incentives. He said they were causing problems for the grid.
About a third of last year's installations were on fields and
not on rooftops.