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Germany Solar Installations May Have Tripled in First Quarter

published: 2012-04-20 14:20

German solar installations may have more than tripled in the first quarter from a year ago, the country’s deputy environment minister said.

“The first quarter had big installations,” Katherina Reiche said today in an interview during an informal meeting of ministers in Denmark. “It is assumed that nearly 1,800 megawatts were installed.”

Germany added 513 megawatts in the same period last year, according to the Bundesnetzagentur grid regulator.

Chancellor Angela Merkel seeks to cut by half the pace of annual solar installations after incentives for the industry pushed new projects to a record 7.5 gigawatts last year, more than double a target. Subsidy cuts, still going through parliament, would take effect April 1, about a year after Merkel decided to exit nuclear generation and replace reactors with a mix of renewable and more efficient fossil-fuel plants.

Germany’s BSW-Solar lobby has said the government’s subsidy reduction plans are too harsh and will worsen a shakeout that led to the insolvencies of at least four German solar companies since December. First Solar Inc. (FSLR), the biggest maker of thin-film panels, on April 17 said it would cut 30 percent of its workforce and close a factory in Germany partly due to subsidy reductions in Germany and Italy.

“So far we can’t see real reductions because the moderate reductions we introduced with the recent legislative act are already in the price,” Reiche said. “I’d expect that also in the future we have a growing PV market in installations.”

“Innovative companies will still have a chance, they have to go for research and education and export markets. There’s a market in Europe, not only in Germany,” Reiche said. “If a company just counts on subsidies, it can’t be successful as a global player.”

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