Bank of America Bets on Solar

After a $1 billion plan to put solar panels on 160,000 U.S. military-base homes fell through in September, Bank of America Corp. (NYSE:BAC) agreed to help finance the SolarStrong project headed by SolarCity Corp.

SolarStrong is now well on its way to becoming the country’s largest residential solar-energy installation and is BoA’s second big bet on sun power in 2011. In June, the lender provided a $1.4 billion loan to San Francisco’s Prologis Inc. for solar systems on warehouse roofs.

With the investment, BoA now ranks No. 2 behind repeat-winner Banco Santander (NYSE:SAN) in Bloomberg Markets’ second annual lineup of the world’s greenest banks. Coming in No. 3 is Italy’s Intesa Sanpaolo SpA, who funded a $44 million acquisition of two solar parks in Italy, as well as cutting total energy use by more than 6 percent in 2010.

Rounding out the ranks at No. 4 is another U.S. Company, Citigroup Inc. (NYSE:C), who invested $157 million in California’s Alta Wind Energy Center and cut its own greenhouse gases 6.4 percent from 2009 levels.

Finishing the top 5 is London’s Lloyds Banking Group Plc (NYSE:LYG), who provided $656 million to 13 projects, including Scotland’s Millour Hill wind farm.

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