Spain regulator halts subsidies for 350 solar plants

MADRID Wed Mar 30, 2011 8:19am BST

MADRID (Reuters) - Spanish energy sector regulator CNE suspended subsidies for 350 solar plants with irregularities in their registration as electricity generators.

CNE has investigated 1,001 solar plants of a total of 8,201 it will probe, indicating that one in three plants it has looked at have not registered themselves properly as having the necessary installations to generate electricity. The suspension was announced in a statement late on Tuesday.

Spain drafted a decree in January 2009 to prevent solar fraud after the CNE discovered some power plants were receiving subsidies without generating any power in 2008.

Spain's solar power industry boomed under a generous subsidy scheme before the government decided it was unsustainable and cut both the amount of generators entitled to aid and the 'feed-in tariffs' designed to gradually make the sector competitive.

Spain has the second largest amount of solar panel plants after Germany.

(Reporting by Andres Gonzalez; Writing by Jonathan Gleave; Editing by Kim Coghill)