Germany to cut solar subsidies faster than expected
BERLIN/FRANKFURT | Thu Feb 23, 2012 11:18am EST
(Reuters) - Germany plans to bring forward cuts in solar power subsidies of up to 30 percent by almost a month to March 9, spelling further trouble for companies selling solar panels in the world's No.2 market.
Government sources had told Reuters on Wednesday the cuts of 20 to 30 percent would be moved forward to April 1, news that sent share prices tumbling. On Thursday Environment Minister Norbert Roettgen and Economy Minister Philipp said the cuts would be moved forward even more, to March 9, to thwart any last-minute boom in projects, a further blow to producers.
Shares in European solar companies plunged further on Thursday, with sector bellwethers SolarWorld, SMA Solar, Q-Cells, Renewable Energy Corp (REC) and Centrotherm down by between 3.2 and 12.8 percent by 1540 GMT.
U.S.-based First Solar and China's Suntech were down 5.64 and 4.9 percent in early Wall Street trading.
German retail electricity prices are 21 to 24 cents per kWh.