Solar power installations at record high in Germany

7 January 2013 (Last Updated January 7th, 2013 03:30)

Germany installed a record number of new solar power plants in 2012, but interest in the renewable energy source fizzled out in the fourth quarter as subsidies were slashed to curb costs to customers, new data shows.

Germany installed a record number of new solar power plants in 2012, but interest in the renewable energy source fizzled out in the fourth quarter as subsidies were slashed to curb costs to customers, new data shows.

New solar generation capacity increased by over 7.6GW in 2012, breaking the previous records of 7.5GW in 2011 and 7.4GW in 2010, Environment Ministry data showed.

New solar generation capacity increased by over 7.6GW in 2012, breaking a previous record of 7.5GW in 2011.

The latest solar boom was influenced by the feed-in tariffs that are guaranteed to power producers for 20 years to encourage carbon-free electricity to slowly replace fossil fuels.

But in 2012, the German government agreed to cut down the level of feed-in tariffs in a move to reduce the pace of installations.

Tariffs were cut by 2.5% a month between 1 November 2012 and 31 January 2013.

An environment ministry spokesman was quoted by Reuters as saying that installed capacity in the last quarter of 2012 was less than a fifth of overall installations in the year.

About 611MW was installed in October, 435MW in November and 360MW in December, the spokesman said.

In 2013, the ministry is expecting new solar power generating capacity of between 3.5GW and 4GW.

Members of the association of solar producers reportedly supplied 8 million households with power in 2012, nearly 45% more than in 2011, and accounting for 5% of total power usage.