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German Minister Rejects Calls to Cut Solar Power Subsidies

Dec. 16 (Bloomberg) -- German Environment Minister Norbert Roettgen rejected Economy Ministry calls to cut renewable energy subsidies in one of the biggest markets for the industry, saying it would hurt the nation’s goal of transforming its power use.

“It makes no sense to again politically question laws that have just been adopted,” Roettgen, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, said today in Berlin. “Insecurity is poison for the energy transformation.”

Germany, the largest solar market in 2010, should lower the rates it pays for power generated with the technology next year to curb electricity bills, Economy Minister Philipp Roesler of the junior coalition Free Democratic Party has said.

Germany, which installed a record 7,400 megawatts of solar panels last year, should curb future growth to 1,000 megawatts a year, Roesler told the Rheinische Post newspaper last month. Q-Cells SE and Solarworld AG, Germany’s biggest solar producers, last month reported wider-than-expected losses on slowing demand in their home market and falling prices for their products.

A limit of 1,000 megawatts would “starve” the industry, Hans-Josef Fell, a Green Party lawmaker, said last month. Roettgen said warnings that power prices will go through the roof as Germany raises the share of renewables are “horror scenarios that have not proven real.”

Merkel shut more than a quarter of atomic capacity in March and plans to complete an exit by 2022. It would be replaced with efficient coal- and gas-fired plants and renewables including wind, solar and biomass. Germany aims to get at least 35 percent of its power from renewables by 2020 compared with 20 percent now, according to figures released today by the BDEW utility lobby.

While the renewable expansion is well on course, Germany needs to speed investments to expand the power grid and do more to reduce overall energy consumption, Roettgen said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Stefan Nicola in Berlin at snicola2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Reed Landberg at landberg@bloomberg.net

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