UK grab for tariffs boosted European solar panel sales in 2015 - industry
* Europe installed 8 GW of new capacity, up 15 pct - industry
* First rise in new installations in Europe since 2011
* New UK cut in subsidies expected to depress market
* Worldwide new PV installations seen at more than 50 GW in 2015
By Christoph Steitz
FRANKFURT, Feb 9 (Reuters) - Solar power panel sales rose for the first time in four years in Europe last year, but only because of a rush in Britain to get new solar power supplies hooked up to the grid before the government cuts the feed-in tariffs to be paid to electricity producers on new installations.
About 8 gigawatts (GW) of new photovoltaic generation capacity was connected up to electricity grids last year across Europe, an increase of about 15 percent on the previous year, said the Brussels-based SolarPower Europe industry association, formerly known as EPIA.
It said last year's rise, the first since 2011, was driven by demand in the UK market, where 3.32 GW of new capacity was installed in 2015, data from the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) showed.
However, the British government confirmed in December it would cap total spending on feed-in-tariffs as well as cutting tariff rates from February 2016 and close the so-called Renewable Obligation, a support scheme aimed at utilities, to new solar PV capacity of 5 megawatts and below from April. Continuación...