China is looking to develop solar photovoltaic projects with a "total installed capacity of 3 gigawatts in 2012," China Securities Journal quoted Liu Tienan, head of the National Energy Administration (NEA) as saying at a national energy work conference on Wednesday, according to the Xinhua News Agency.

What did the U.S. and China solar markets have in common in 2011?

Well, for one, 2011 was the year that both the U.S. and China markets cleared the one-gigawatt hurdle of annual installed solar. The U.S. crossed that line sometime in September and China crossed that line on about December 31, according to the intrepid solar analysts at GTM Research.

Suntech's Chief Commercial Officer, Andrew Beebe, said he expects China to be a "multi-gigawatt market" in 2012. 

China has long surpassed the United States in funding for green technology and is discussing a "campaign to limit the absolute amount of greenhouse gases that can be emitted by certain industries in certain regions," according to a senior climate official, as reported in the China Daily. China's government has plans to expand its installed capacity to 20 gigawatts by 2020 -- a feat that will be enabled by a recently instituted solar feed-in tariff. That 20-gigawatts-by-2020 figure has a tendency to be rather, um, fluid, and certain solar analysts like Amy Song of Goldman Sachs have characterized the FIT as "temporary."

At any rate, China could surpass the U.S. in installed PV within a year or two. China's cumulative capacity doubled in 2011 to two gigawatts.

Here's a list of some of Suntech's projects in China, according to a company spokesperson who emailed Greentech Media.

    • Zhangjiakou, Hebei province -- 50 megawatts
    • Ge’ermu, Qinghai province -- 50 megawatts
    • Dongtai, Jiangsu province -- 20 megawatts
    • Yixing, Jiangsu province -- 50 megawatts
    • Tibet -- 20 megawatts
    • Ningxia -- 10 megawatts

According to Goldman Sachs, China added 35 gigawatts of new generating capacity in the first half 2011, adding: "Ultimately, China’s appetite for power will drive long-term growth." This demand for power is occurring across all industries and in commercial as well as residential sectors. The total growth in generating capacity is forecast at 84 gigawatts.