FRANKFURT, Jan 2 (Reuters) - Germany's subsidy-backed solar power installations from January through to November 2012 indicate that full-year figures are set to come close to last year's record, highlighting spiralling costs for consumers.
Figures issued by the country's energy regulator, the Bundesnetzagentur, at the turn of the year showed January to November 2012 installations rose to nearly 7,300 megawatts (MW) and that November installations alone totalled 435.3 MW compared with 659.3 MW in November 2011.
This shows a likelihood of 2012 matching the previous installation record of 7,500 MW in 2011 and after 7,400 MW in 2010.
The solar boom has been encouraged by generous feed-in tariffs, which are guaranteed to generators for 20 years to encourage carbon free power industries to gradually replace power produced from fossil fuels.
The trend of additions in recent years far exceeds the 2,500 to 3,500 MW the Berlin government had wanted to see each year.
The unusually higher December 2011 installations of 3,000 MW are, however, unlikely to have been reached in December 2012. The surge at the end of 2011 was due to the anticipation of tariff cuts which kicked in at the start of 2012.
Last year, feed-in-tariffs for new solar units were cut by 2.5 percent a month between Nov.1, 2012 and Jan.31, 2013, in response to the strong increase in generating capacity in 2012.
Total solar capacity stood at 32,059 MW at end-November.
The share of renewable subsidies within the overall power bill rose 47 percent on January 1, 2013, to 5.3 cents a kilowatt hour, raising the subsidising cost per average household by 60 euros ($79.10) to 185 euros for the year.
Private consumers bear the brunt of the costs after the government gave breaks to energy-intensive industry, cutting some of the green energy and network usage costs for companies.
The association of solar producers (BSW) said on Tuesday that its members already supplied eight million households with power, 45 percent more than in 2011, and accounting for five percent of the power usage total.
'Germany now is benefiting from the fruits of its labour in solar technology. Solar's share in power supply has quadrupled in the last three years,' said BSW managing director Carsten Koernig.
But business daily Frankfurter Allgemeine said the only way for consumers to benefit was to fit their own solar panels, instead of receiving and paying for power from public networks.
'Whoever wants to avoid being milked (for the costs) much longer will have to produce his own power, because politically there is no chance of recourse,' it said in an editorial on Wednesday. ($1 = 0.7585 euros)
(Reporting by Vera Eckert; editing by Keiron Henderson) Keywords: GERMANY SOLAR/
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