Bloomberg News

German June Solar Panel Installations Fall Annual 69%

September 28, 2011

(Updates with shares, solar lobby comment from fifth paragraph.)

Sept. 28 (Bloomberg) -- Germany, the world’s biggest solar- panel market, added 664 megawatts of the devices in June, a 69 percent drop from the same period last year, according to preliminary figures from the German power grid regulator.

The installations fell from 2,109 megawatts of solar capacity built in June 2010, the record figure for that year, when homeowners raced to beat a July subsidy cut, the Bundesnetzagentur agency said on its website.

German panel makers including Solarworld AG, Q-Cells SE and Conergy AG have been struggling to offset slumping demand in their home market, which has cut subsidies twice since June 2010. They’re also under pressure from Chinese manufacturers that have boosted production capacity just as demand slowed, causing cell and module prices to plummet.

“Prices for panels continue to drop and that’s suggesting that solar installations in the third quarter will be weak,” Katharina Cholewa, an analyst at WestLB AG in Dusseldorf, Germany, said by telephone.

She added that on several occasions, slumping prices didn’t result in increased demand as buyers wait for them to fall further.

Q-Cells slid 6 percent in Frankfurt trading as of 5:15 p.m., bringing its loss this year to 79 percent. SMA Solar Technology AG, the Niestetal-based producer of inverters that Sept. 19 reduced its profit forecast amid weaker-than-expected demand for rooftop systems, was down 8.3 percent.

Cholewa, who said she expected 700 megawatts of installations for June, forecast Germany will add 3,100 megawatts in the second half, down from 3,400 megawatts in the same period last year.

The German government seeks to add 3,500 megawatts of panel installations each year and reduces subsidies if installations exceed that level.

The country’s BSW solar lobby expects about 5,000 megawatts of installations in all of 2011, Carsten Koernig, the head of the group, said by telephone today. The next regular cut to subsidies, scheduled for January, will likely be set at between 12 percent and 15 percent, he forecast.

--With assistance from Marc Roca in London; Editors: Todd White, Tony Barrett

To contact the reporter on this story: Stefan Nicola in Berlin at snicola2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Reed Landberg at landberg@bloomberg.net


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