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Solar panels and subsidies in US and Germany

Michaela Rehle / Reuters

A worker mounts 320 square metres of solar panels on the roof of a farmstead barn in Binsham near Landshut on Wednesday. The German government plans cuts to solar funding.

Mandel Ngan / AFP - Getty Images

US President Barack Obama speaks about his energy policies following a tour of the Copper Mountain Solar Project, the largest photovoltaic plant operating in the country in Boulder City, Nevada on Wednesday.

Germany, home to the largest share of the world's solar cells, is planning cuts to its solar subsidies of up to 30%, Reuters reports:

The government wants to cut the expansion of solar power after Germany added a record 7,500 megawatts capacity in 2011 to bring its total to 25,000 MW, nearly as much as the rest of the world combined.

The government wants to add 2,500-3,500 MW capacity annually, which is why it is cutting the incentives so aggressively after a 15 percent drop on January 1 and after capacity was expanded by over 7,000 MW in both 2010 and 2011.

In the United States, President Obama toured a 58 MW solar power plant in Nevada that was built with the help of federal tax credits of about $42 million. Meanwhile, the Commerce Department is imposing new import fees on solar panels made in China:

"Today's announcement affirms what U.S. manufacturers have long known: Chinese manufacturers have received unfair ... subsidies," Steve Ostrenga, CEO of Helios Solar Works in Milwaukee, said in a statement. The company is a member of a group called the Coalition for American Solar Manufacturing.

On the other side, some U.S. companies argue that low-priced Chinese imports have helped consumers and promote rapid growth of the industry.

See more images of solar power in PhotoBlog.