Marks & Spencer has signed a deal to buy the energy from an anaerobic digestion plant being built by renewable energy firm Farmgen.
Blackpool-based Farmgen secured a £2.1m loan from the Co-operative Bank to finance the plant at Warton in Lancashire.
And M&S has signed a five-year contract to buy the energy generated from the facility at a fixed price.
Construction of the £3 million AD plant at Carr Farm is now under way. When it becomes fully operation next spring it will generate 800kW of electricity – the equivalent of powering more than 1,000 homes.
Farmgen’s chief operating officer Ed Cattigan said: “This arrangement is the first of its kind for an AD plant in the UK. The Co-op was chosen as the bank has previous experience in this type of deal for wind farms and this philosophy was utilised in the brokering of the loan.
“To have secured such a deal with the Co-op Bank is testament to how robust our offering to the market is and the growing belief in what AD plants can deliver in the UK.”
M&S head of energy management Mervyn Bowden said the deal helped M&S “support our commitments under Plan A, our sustainability programme, to procure 100% green electricity by 2012.”
The Co-operative Bank’s senior corporate advisor Matthew Andrews added: “The bank is committed to supporting projects that not only fit perfectly with our ethical values but also make full use of sustainable energy.”
The Co-operative Bank revealed this week that the amount of money saved or invested ethically by consumers has shown its biggest annual increase in a decade.
Total money invested ethically rose 34% to £19.2bn, from £14.3bn in the previous 12 months. In comparison, total deposits and investments grew 15% over the same period.
Tim Franklin, chief operating officer at Co-operative Financial Services, said: “The growth that we’re witnessing is evidence that in the wake of the financial crisis more consumers are considering the ethical as well as financial impacts of their money.”
“While ethical finance has grown steadily over the decade there has clearly by a recent acceleration.
“This is something that we’ve experienced at The Co-operative Bank, with current account openings up 38% last year; a result of consumers ‘flight to trust.”
Three years ago, The Co-operative Bank announced plans to invest a £400m into renewable energy and carbon reduction projects.
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