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Thu Feb 2, 2012, 12:08 PM

Analysis: German solar groups could thrive on subsidy fears

http://www.baltimoresun.com/business/sns-rt-us-germany-solartre8101q3-20120201,0,5041641.story

Fears Germany will cap or cut green energy subsidies is boosting demand for solar panels, and uncertainty about the shape of the measures could give the country's battered solar sector an advantage against Chinese rivals.

Installations of solar panels have boomed in Germany over the last two years due to feed-in tariffs, lavish subsidies utilities are forced to pay by the government to those who generate their own solar power. Ultimately power companies pass on the costs to their customers.

But as the burden on energy consumers soars, Berlin now wants to tighten its grip on the market and is scrambling for ideas over how best to curtail demand. Proposals range from monthly cuts in feed-in tariffs to an outright cap on subsidies.

December saw a massive installation rush and some executives and analysts are predicting a bumper first quarter -- seasonally the weakest as bad weather makes it harder to install panels on roofs -- as people sign up for current schemes ahead of impending cutbacks.

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