The social lender Charity Bank has given a £400,000 loan to a community-owned renewable energy scheme in Lancashire.
The 15-year loan to Whalley Community Hydro will enable the development of a hydroelectric generating plant on the south side of the River Calder at Whalley in the Ribble Valley.
The money was released after the organisation met a condition that it should raise an amount similar to the loan through a community share offer.
It is the first investment that the bank has made since the social investment wholesaler Big Society Capital announced it was spending £14.5m to take a majority stake in the bank.
Graham Sowter, a founder member of Whalley Community Hydro, said: "We can now start work, which will lead to Whalley Community Hydro generating a significant amount of energy for the community in a scheme owned by the community."
Charity Bank plans to significantly increase the amount it lends to charities from its current level of about £55m to about £250m by the end of 2018.
It said that the value of loans it made in the first three months of 2014 was more than double the amount of loans made during the same period last year.
It made 20 loans totalling £7.8m in the first three months of this year, compared with 12 loans worth £3.1m in the same period in 2013.
Patrick Crawford, chief executive of Charity Bank, said: "Charity Bank has money to lend to charities and other social sector organisations such as Whalley Community Hydro, and this will increase significantly over the next four years."
Simon Thorrington, a regional director at Charity Bank responsible for renewable energy, said: "We are more than satisfied that the Whalley Community Hydro scheme will not only generate significant amounts of clean energy but will also be the catalyst for other sustainable projects in the area. The positive social impact of the scheme will be significant. This is one of the main criteria we look for in deciding whether or not to offer a loan."