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Cut in Solar Power Support Sparks Row

Opposition parties accused Germany’s environment and economy ministers of endangering thousands of jobs as well as the country’s switch to renewables by cutting solar power subsidies.

Environment Minister Norbert Röttgen, of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and Economy Minister Philipp Rösler, of the Free Democratic Party (FDP) this week presented plans to cut solar power subsidies by one-third, prompting environmental groups to express their disappointment.

Solar power producers will now only receive between €0.135 and €0.195 for every kilowatt hour they send to the grid. Despite this, Germany still plans to build new solar power facilities with a total capacity of 2,500 – 3,500 megawatts over the next two years.

Röttgen said photovoltaic power must “grow in a sensible framework when it comes to costs and maintaining grid stability.”

Rösler described the solar power subsidies as “sweet poison” for solar power operators. “If, out of €12 billion set aside by the Renewable Energy Act, €6 billion is spent on photovoltaic power, when it accounts for three percent of electricity production, then obviously we have to think about its economic value,” he said.

Ulrich Kelber, deputy parliamentary leader of the opposition Social Democratic Party (SPD), criticized Rösler sharply. “The government’s plans to attack solar power have Rösler’s ideological handwriting all over them,” he said. “He has imposed his will on the environment minister.”

Green party parliamentary leader Jürgen Trittin accused the government of sacrificing Germany’s switch to renewable energy for the sake of peace in the coalition. He called the subsidy cuts, “completely out of proportion and therefore irresponsible.”

“The agreement frightens investors, endangers thousands of jobs and hurts climate protection,” he added.

Greenpeace energy expert Sven Teske said the plan threatens 130,000 jobs in 10,000 mid-sized companies, while World Wildlife Fund board member Eberhard Brandes described the deal as a “tragedy for energy policy.”

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