China to install more solar power in 2014 than the US ever has
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Image: Markus Pfaff/Shutterstock

The Chinese government has installed 3.3 gigawatts of solar capacity over the first six months of 2014, which brings its total solar supply to 23 gigawatts. It has vowed to install another 13 gigawatts by the end of 2014 - an amount equatable to the US's total installed capacity of 12 gigawatts.

According to Reuters, the Chinese federal government is encouraging local governments to offer extra subsidies for solar power investments, particularly at schools, hospitals, and in rural areas. They are also promoting the installation of solar panels on public infrastructure with large roof space, such as railway stations and airport terminals. People who install solar cells on abandoned land, agricultural greenhouses and lakes will also be rewarded, Reuters reports, and the government has encouraged financial institutions to offer loans related to solar installations at discounted rates to make it happen.

Australia and the US, on the other hand, could do a much better job at embracing solar power, but globally, things are looking positive, as Ari Phillips reports at Think Progress:

"Australia, one of the most sunny, potentially solar power-friendly countries on Earth, has just about 3.2 gigawatts of total solar installed capacity. The US has over 12 gigawatts of solar capacity installed. Many countries are adding solar capacity so quickly that it can be hard to find the most up-to-date numbers. Solar accounted for 29 percent of all new global electricity generation capacity added in 2013, up from just 10 percent in 2012, making it the second-largest source of new electricity generating capacity after natural gas.”

Phillips reports that severe pollution from fossil fuel power plants is one of the main motivations for China’s commitment to solar power, and that Beijing plans to ban the use of coal by the end of 2020.