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German solar market reaches records but cuts loom

New photovoltaic installations reached 7.5GW in Germany in 2011, just over the 7.4GW recorded the previous year, according to the German network regulatory agency Bundesnetzagentur (BnetzA). In December alone, additions totalled 3GW according to preliminary figures.

However, the pace of installations could trigger a 15% cut in tariffs under the feed-in law for renewable energy from July 2012, if unabated. Under previous regulation, only a further 225MW of build between January-April 2012 would suffice to trigger a subsidy cut by 15% from mid-year, said BnetzA President Matthias Kurth.

The government is trying to force the industry to lower its costs faster to avoid steeply-rising energy bills for all consumers, who under the law must pay for the tariffs.

Boosted by lavish incentives, Germany became the world’s largest solar market by installations and a major sales market of sector bellwethers such as U.S.-based First Solar, China’s Suntech, Norway’s Renewable Energy Corp and Germany’s SMA Solar, reports Reuters. Nevertheless, the contribution of solar to total power output remains comparatively modest at just over 3% or 18bnkWh.

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