Solar up strongly

What’s the matter?
Well, this, probably:

UPDATE 1-German govt paper urges no cap on solar power

By Markus Wacket

BERLIN, April 13 (Reuters) – The government should not make further cuts in incentives for solar power producers nor introduce a cap when it reforms its renewable energy act (EEG), according to a paper obtained by Reuters on Wednesday.

The 260-page paper prepared for the environment ministry reflects the government’s changing views on nuclear energy in the wake of the Japanese nuclear disaster and urges a redoubling of efforts to expand renewable energy.

A spokeswoman for the environment ministry said the paper has not yet reached the ministry’s leadership. She said it will be discussed in the context of the government’s three-month moratorium on whether to extend nuclear power.

The paper for the reform of the EEG scheduled for 2012 proposes leaving the annual 9 percent reduction in the feed-in tariff (FIT) for new systems unchanged from 2012.

Utilities are obliged to pay higher rates per kw/h of electricity produced for 20 years. That rate had been falling by about 8 to 10 percent per year before Chancellor Angela Merkel’s centre-right government began accelerating the cuts in mid-2010.

The solar industry — which depends on government incentives — had been hurt by those changes in subsidy legislation in Germany and Italy, the world’s No.1 and No.2 markets.

But since the Japanese disaster, shares in solar companies have risen on expectations of greater investment in renewable energy. SolarWorld, Germany’s No.2 by market value, has seen its shares rise almost 30 percent.

The German government paper also urges no one-off cuts for land-based wind energy systems. But it did, however, urge doubling the annual reduction in the FIT for land-based wind energy systems to 2 percent from 2012 from 1 percent currently.

The paper urges the FIT for off-shore wind energy systems be raised to 15 cents per kilowatt/hour from 2012 from 13 cents currently. It urges the start of FIT annual reductions for off-shore wind energy in 2018 — three years beyond the current date for FIT reductions to start in 2015.

In Germany, the nuclear crisis has already led to a shutdown of several nuclear plants and the government is set to shore up the renewable sector.

Germany added a record of some 7 gigawatt (GW) of photovoltaic capacity in 2010 to a total of nearly 17 GW.

Germany gets about 17 percent of its energy from renewable energy sources — such as wind, solar and hydro.

It gets about 23 percent of from nuclear power. The 17 nuclear reactors were scheduled to be operating until about 2034. But that date may be changed to 2022 or sooner in the wake of the Japanese disaster.

Germany is the world’s biggest market for photovoltaic, which turns sunlight into electricity. The industry boomed with the EEG in 2000 that guarantees investors above-market fees for solar power for 20 years.

(Reporting by Markus Wacket; writing by Erik Kirschbaum; Editing by David Cowell) Keywords: GERMANY RENEWABLES/

(Reuters messaging:

But the news out of Italy is still somewhat murky, but news out of the US is a whole lot better