Chester, Warrington, Liverpool and Manchester are all in the running to host the government's new Green Investment Bank.
They face competition from 18 other locations including Gloucester, Paisley, Bristol, Cardiff, Leeds, Derby, London, Nottingham and Stoke on Trent.
The bank will employ 70 staff and have £3bn to spend from the Treasury.
Its priority areas include: offshore power generation; waste processing and recycling; energy from waste; non-domestic energy efficiency; and support for the Green Deal, the government's home insulation programme.
Business secretary Vince Cable said the location of the bank will be decided in February with a deadline for applications of January.
According to the government the winning location must be able to recruit and retain specialist staff, enable the bank to work closely with other parties and be in a location that provides good value for money.
John Ashcroft, chief executive of Pro Manchester and leader of the Manchester Green Investment Bank bid, said: "Our proposals perfectly complement the refined criteria. There's an emphasis on three key areas, each of which our campaign substantiates; the provision and retention of skilled staff, the context of a relevant local 'ecosystem' and cost effectiveness.
"Manchester meets every single one of these with great merit; the wealth of professionals in the city is unrivalled, the existence of organisations like Pro Manchester defines the 'ecosystem' whilst our relationships with property developers means we can also meet the cost effective criteria."