Germany has announced a 15% cut in subsidies for solar energy generators and solar panel manufacturers to ease the sector towards free competition.

German Environment Minister Norbert Roettgen has announced a cut in feed-in tariffs for new roof-mounted solar power from April 2010, reports Reuters.

The feed-in tariff is the price utilities pay renewable energy generators until the cost of renewable power is the same as that of fossil fuel-based power.

Utilities pay about 39 euro cents in feed-in tariffs per kilowatt for solar power, about eight times the amount for conventional power.

Tariffs for open field solar energy will be cut by 15% and for energy generated from farmland sites by 25% from July 2010.

The decision is drawing protests from solar energy firms such as Q-Cells, Phoenix Solar and SolarWorld that depend on German demand, which is the world’s biggest market for solar energy in terms of installed capacity.

Germany plans additional cuts of 2.5% from 2011 if installations exceed 3,500MW in the previous 12 months.