Solar energy delivers for farmers in northern Chile

An innovative solar project supported by the BHP Foundation in Chile is helping local communities in the country’s north deliver their own sustainable solar energy solutions.


The Ayllu Solar Project commenced in 2015 initiated by SERC Chile, a Solar Energy Research Centre created by Chile’s National Science and Technology Commission.

Today, the project is helping local communities adapt to changing environmental conditions by harnessing the power of the sun to produce electricity, heat and light.

And that’s creating economic opportunities for local farmers.

In Chile’s remote north, Juan Carlos Cárdenas represents a group of small farmers in the Arica and Parinacota region, who when solar power was first introduced in 2014, feared it would not produce enough energy to meet their needs.

However today, almost 31 per cent use solar energy in their irrigation systems.

It’s thanks to the Ayllu Solar Project which is helping the local community make solar power the economic backbone of the Arica and Parinacota region.

They’ve now built the first tomato packing facility in the Atacama Desert that’s 100 per cent sustainably constructed and powered entirely by solar energy.

For Juan Carlos that’s good news for local growers.

‘Thanks to this packing facility, small growers have been able to improve their productivity, increase their prices and gain access to better clients,’ he says.  

Alejandra Garcés, Chile Program Director of BHP Foundation,  says the project demonstrates that solar energy is key to sustainable development.

‘By using solar energy, local communities across northern Chile, including Indigenous peoples, have an opportunity to improve their prospects and those of generations to come,’ says Alejandra.

‘The success of this project in the Arica and Parinacota region has the potential to set in motion other ventures that will have a positive impact on the environment and provide new sustainable development opportunities across Chile.’

Read more about BHP Foundation’s partnership with SERC on the Ayllu Solar Project.