China has selected 294 upcoming solar power plants with 642MW total generating capacity for its first pilot solar programme.

The cost of these solar power projects, which would become operational in about three years, is expected to be US $2.93bn (RMB 20bn), China’s Ministry of Finance said.

The Ministry said the government would subsidise half of the investment cost for solar power projects and key power transmission and distribution systems that connect to grid networks. It will also support 70% of costs for independent solar power projects in powerless areas.

Major industrial and commercial firms will undertake construction of 232 solar power projects with 290MW total generating capacity, whose power output will be consumed by the firms themselves, according to Reuters.

In powerless regions, 27 independent photovoltaic power generating projects with 46MW total capacity will be constructed, which will supply power to over 300,000 people residing in the region.

The remaining 35 projects will be utility-scale plants with 306MW total capacity, whose power output would be supplied to grid networks.

The subsidies are expected to help accelerate China’s ‘golden sun’ plan, which aims to find alternatives to fossil fuels.