New solar power installations in Germany hit a record high last year, but tapered off in the fourth quarter as subsidies were cut to curb costs to consumers, Environment Ministry data showed on Saturday.
Capacity grew by more than 7.6 gigawatt (GW), breaking the previous records of 7.5 GW in 2011 and 7.4 GW in 2010, and far above the 2.5 to 3.5 GW Berlin would like to see each year. The solar boom has been encouraged by generous feed-in tariffs, which are guaranteed to generators for 20 years to encourage carbon-free power to gradually replace fossil fuels.
But renewable energy has become politically divisive as businesses complain the shift away from nuclear power towards subsidised renewables is adding to consumer costs and jeopardising economic growth.
The government agreed last year to cut the level of feed-in tariffs in order to reduce the pace of installations.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 6th, 2013.
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