Germany posts record H1 rise in solar capacity

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany added a record of about 3.4 gigawatts (GW) of photovoltaic capacity in the first half of the year, equivalent to three big coal or nuclear power plants, the German Federal Network Agency said on Tuesday.

That included approximately 1.7 GW in June alone ahead of changes in laws that accelerated cuts in the feed-in tariff utilities pay to generators of renewable energy.

The looming cuts in the feed-in tariff and lower prices for solar panels sparked a surge in investment, as capacity installed before the cuts enjoys the old higher tariff for 20 years.

“We’ve had a flood of new installations,” said Network Agency head Matthias Kurth.

The record of new installed capacity for a full year is 3.8 GW in 2009, and industry officials have forecast Germany will easily exceed that in 2010, with estimates between 6 and 8 GW.

Germany had a total of about 9.8 GW installed photovoltaic capacity at the end of 2010, about half of the world’s total.

The German government cut the tariffs by 13 percent in July and will cut them by another 3 percentage points to 16 percent from October.

Reporting by Markus Wacket; writing by Erik Kirschbaum, editing by Will Waterman