German economy minister calls for overhaul to FiT

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Tensions in German chancellor Angela Merkel’s government continue over the future of feed-in tariffs. Economy minister Philipp Roesler is calling for an overhaul to the country’s subsidy system for renewable energy, created in the 1990s to ensure the clean-power industry remains competitive.

Roesler said power producers will need to face competitors without earning above-market prices over the long-term if the country wants to reach its clean-energy targets and not overpay. German consumers paid about €13 billion last year in subsidies for power from wind and solar plants.

Following the Fukushima catastrophe last year, Germany has started decommissioning its nuclear reactors, looking to increase its renewable energy usage to 80% by 2050.

Berlin-based module maker Solon SE and Solar Millennium AG, a developer of solar-thermal plants, filed for insolvency last month even as the country added a record 7.5GW of solar energy capacity in 2011, more than double the government’s target of 3.5GW.

Christiane Schwarte, a spokeswoman for environment minister Norbert Roettgen, said the renewable energy law in its current form has “stood the test of time.” Furthermore, she believes the current law will continue.

German consumers finance the clean-energy subsidies via their electricity bills. Under current regulations, Germany is expected to cut solar subsidies by about 27% this year after a 13% reduction in 2011, according to the BSW-Solar industry association.
 

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