China has more than doubled its target for solar power capacity to 50 gigawatts by 2020

The increased target follows a massive earthquake and tsunami in Japan that triggered a nuclear crisis in the country’s northeast and fuelled worldwide debate about the safety of nuclear power.

China hopes its installed solar energy capacity will reach 10 gigawatts by 2015 and 50 gigawatts by the end of the decade, said Li Junfeng, deputy director of the energy research arm of the National Development and Reform Commission. The country’s current installed capacity is less than one gigawatt.

Li said China will soon publish a five-year blueprint and other supportive policies for the solar power industry. Beijing has ordered safety inspections of the country’s nuclear energy plants and "temporarily" suspended approval of new and proposed projects following the disasters in Japan, but has said it will continue to develop the technology.

China — which in November admitted it is the world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitter — has some of the globe’s worst air and water quality after three decades of unrestrained growth and resulting pollution. Leaders of the world’s second-largest economy plan to invest hundreds of billions of dollars developing clean energy over the next decade as it seeks to meet a target of generating 15 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020.