FRANKFURT Oct 31 Germany's solar power systems
market continued to grow strongly in September, putting Europe's
biggest economy on track for a new installation record this year
and increasing pressure on the ruling coalition to curb the
spiralling costs to consumers.
In September nearly 1 gigawatt (GW) of new solar power
generating capacity was installed, the energy network regulator
Bundesnetzagentur said on Wednesday, bringing the total of new
installations in the January-September period to about 6.2 GW.
Capacity grew by around 7.4 GW in all of 2010 and 7.5 GW in
2011, far above the 2.5 to 3.5 GW Berlin would like to see each
This prompted the government to schedule massive cuts in the
levels of feed-in tariffs -- which are guaranteed to be paid for
20 years to generators of solar power -- the industry's
lifeblood as long as solar power is more expensive than
conventional forms of energy to produce.
Boosted by even more lavish tariff incentives in the past,
Germany is the world's largest solar power equipment market,
attracting industry bellwethers such as U.S.-based First Solar
, China's Suntech, Norway's Renewable Energy
Corp and Germany's SMA Solar.
Bundesnetzagentur said that as a result of the strong
increase in generating capacity so far this year, feed-in
tariffs for new solar power installations would be further cut
by 2.5 percent a month between Nov. 1, 2012 and Jan. 31, 2013.
By slashing tariffs the solar equipment industry has been
forced to cut prices, while the government heads off steep rises
in energy bills for companies and households, which are required
by law to pay the feed-in tariffs.
Earlier this month, Germany's power network operators said
subsidies levied on German consumers to support renewable power
will rise by 47 percent next year.
Chancellor Angela Merkel's decision to abandon nuclear power
following last year's Fukushima disaster has led to a growing
need for alternative energy sources, causing higher charges on
consumers' energy bills.
German media have highlighted the cost to households of
Merkel's decision last year to speed up the switch to renewables
and switch off nuclear plants earlier than planned.
Opposition parties have accused the government of letting
private consumers bear the brunt of the costs, after it exempted
energy-intensive heavy industry from green energy and network
(Editing by Greg Mahlich)