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German Solar Installs Sink, Prompting Calls to Slow Subsidy Cuts

German solar installations last year sank to less than half their record level, spurring producers to call for an easing in subsidy cuts by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government to prevent the industry being strangled.

Germany, the world’s biggest market in 2012, added about 3.3 gigawatts of panels in 2013 from the all-time high of 7.6 gigawatts the year before, the BSW-Solar lobby said today in an e-mailed statement. Subsidy cuts exceeded price declines for new solar units, slowing installations, the Berlin-based group said.

“Expanding solar energy into a key pillar of the energy supply is key for climate policy and by now affordable,” said Carsten Koernig, head of the lobby. The government should ease subsidy cuts in order not to “choke off” the market, he said.

European solar developers and panel makers face shrinking markets in the region as countries cut aid and limit ground-mounted projects. Germany was the world’s biggest market for solar technology in three of four years since 2009 because of above-market rates paid for low-carbon power. Installations in Europe may drop to less than 10 gigawatts in 2013 from about 17 gigawatts in 2012, the European Photovoltaic Association says.

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