The Chinese government says it will pay up to 70% of the price of new solar power systems in an effort to speed development of clean energy industries.

The Finance Ministry’s announcement comes as Beijing tries to reduce China’s fast rising demand for imported oil and gas and create companies that cash in on growing global demand for clean energy technology, writes the Associated Press.

The subsidies aim to develop the solar industry as a new source of Chinese economic growth, the ministry said in a statement.

The Finance Ministry said that over the next two to three years it will pay up to 50% of the price of solar power systems of more than 500MW – comparable to a coal-fired power plant.

It said that the government will pay up to 70% of the cost in remote areas.

China has several large producers of solar systems based on photovoltaic cells but the technology’s cost means most of their production is sold abroad, writes the Associated Press.

The government has set a target of generating at least 15 % of China’s power from solar, wind and other renewable sources by 2020.