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Germans rush to install solar electricity capacity before subsidy cut

09 Jan 2012 17:22:35 | edem

A late surge meant that 7.5GW of photovoltaic capacity was added to the German electricity grid in 2011, according to estimates from network regulator Federal Network Agency (BNetzA). This beats the previous record of 7.4GW installed in 2010.

BNetzA said a debate on subsidy cuts, proposed by the German economy ministry, had led to a rush to install solar capacity before any new reduction, such as the 12% cut in place, since the start of this year could materialise.

In December 2011 alone, 3GW of installed capacity was connected to the grid, accounting for roughly 40% of capacity installed during the whole year, said Matthias Kurth, the president of BNetzA.

Another reason for the December surge was that prices for photovoltaic systems fell faster than subsidies, according to BNetzA.

The continued strong expansion is likely to lead to deeper subsidy cuts from 1 July 2012 than previously thought. BNetzA calculates the regression rate of subsidies based on how many solar power plants come online. In order to reach the maximum regression rate of 15% from July 2012, only 225MW of additional installed capacity would have to be added between January and April of 2012. So far, a regression of 9% is the most likely, according to German solar industry association BSW-Solar.

The 4.15GW added in the last quarter of 2011 would also lead to a regression of 12% from January 2013, BNetzA said.

Fresh data shows the share of solar in the German power production mix in 2011 rose to 4% instead of the previous estimate for the year of 3% and up from 2% in 2010, BSW-Solar said. MD

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