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UK fruit producer becomes latest to use 'green loan' to fund sustainable development

Key Points
  • Based in the southeastern county of Kent, England, Berry Gardens is a co-operative owned by growers. 
  • Its new solar power system is made up of more than 3,600 panels. 
Over 3,600 solar panels have been installed.

Thanks to an abundance of vegetable plots and fruit orchards, Kent is known as the "Garden of England."

A producer of berries and stone fruit in the southeastern county is attempting to further boost its green credentials with the installation of a 993 kilowatt solar array on the roof of its headquarters.

Berry Gardens, a co-operative owned by growers, hopes that the development of more than 3,600 solar panels across an area of 6,143 meters squared will help to cut its carbon footprint. The scheme has been funded by a "green loan" worth £780,000 ($960,667) from HSBC U.K.

"We estimate that the new Solar Array will provide enough energy to satisfy the demand of 237 four-bed houses for a year and will take 292,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere each year," Nick Allen, the Berry Gardens CEO, said in a statement issued Wednesday.

The Berry Gardens scheme represents the latest example of "green finance" being used to support a project attempting to boost the sustainability of a building or structure.

The term "green finance" is itself quite broad. The Energy Saving Trust has described it as "just finance, but where the house, car, company, infrastructure or power plant being invested in are green."

The size of projects within this arena of green and sustainable finance can range from large, sweeping programs to smaller developments.

In January, for instance, the European Union announced plans to mobilize "at least" 1 trillion euros "of sustainable investments over the next decade."

At the lower end of the scale, a sustainable building project in Winchester, England, has been supported by green financing through a £30 million loan from Triodos Bank.

The University of Winchester's West Downs Centre boasts a number of sustainable features designed to boost its green credentials.

These include a combined heat and power system; solar photovoltaic panels; rainwater recycling; and what the university described as "smart building management."