We seek to collaborate with the Region of Arica y Parinacota so that the urban and rural communities of this region achieve a sustainable development through the use of solar energy. The process will be based on:

Creation of cost-effective, replicable and scalable solar energy solutions for the development of communities in key areas.

Train human capital capacities so as to seek for both the effective use of solar energy solutions and the possibility of their further developments.

By ensuring sustainability through effective solar energy solutions, business models, support network, community involvement, and an appropriate institutional framework.


“Ayllu” means “community” in the Aymara and Quechua languages. The name of the project, then, is based on the concept of co-construction with the communities of Arica y Parinacota. The communities will play a key role in all the project implementation phases during its five-year duration.


Given its high levels of irradiation and its exceptional sky transparency, the Atacama Desert has great potential for the production of electricity, heat and light based on solar energy. It is also an exceptional area for the study, development, and testing of new solar technologies. These characteristics are the main reason why SERC Chile decided to implement the Ayllu Solar project in the region of Arica y Parinacota. The BHP Billiton Foundation is an important partner in this initiative, as it shares SERC Chile’s view on the importance of solar energy for the sustainable development of the Region of Arica y Parinacota. Its financial contribution will make it possible to carry out key aspects of this initiative.

The BHP Billiton Foundation was established in 2013 and works to address some of the most critical global sustainable development challenges facing our generation. By working in partnership with others we seek to raise the bar, find new solutions and set new standards for the future. Through our programs we address challenges that are directly relevant to the resources sector.

The BHP Billiton Foundation global programs focus on Natural Resource Governance, Environmental Resilience and Education Equity.

The Chile Country Program is focused on harnessing the potential of young people through education, enhancing the capability of organisations and groups to participate in decision making, and enhancing the resilience of communities to respond to environmental change.

In 2012, Universidad de Chile together with five other national research centers (Tarapacá, Antofagasta, Federico Santa María, Adolfo Ibáñez and Concepción) and Fundación Chile, founded one of the most recognized Research Centers in Latin America, with funding from the Fund for Research Centers Funding in Priority Areas (Fondap, for its Spanish acronym) of the National Commission for Scientific and Technological Research (Conicyt, for its Spanish acronym), which fosters high-level research in Chile, covering projects in six areas aimed at overcoming knowledge barriers, so as to meet the goal of expanding the use of solar energy. The main objective of this program is to develop projects related to innovation and self-sustainability within the framework of opportunities offered by solar technology to nourish the national energy matrix, in order to study different scientific barriers, techniques, and regulations that limit the massive use of this energy source from a multi/inter-disciplinary perspective, with the aim of promoting viable and cost-effective proposals that encourage the large-scale use of this abundant resource available in Northern Chile. SERC Chile will be in charge of running the Ayllu Solar project, since its members have experience in related projects, which guarantees quality and prestige at the service of scientific research. Previous experience of the members of SERC Chile: Universidad de Chile, in this context, they have enough experience in smart grids related to its Energy Center, which, in addition to providing solid technical knowledge, has established logistical and practical challenges ranging from the installation of their products to their maintenance. It is also important to highlight the training of the community under the framework of joint work in each project where the University has developed micro grids of several sites throughout the country, ranging from isolated systems to mechanics associated to the emergency network incorporated into the central energy grid. Projects such as Huatacondo have proven the most common approach in works, which aim to have a social impact on small communities. Additionally, the development of specific projects usually combines the use of platform’s technology with the limited local engineering, thus achieving significant progress associated with the long-term sustainability of the project and its replicability elsewhere. Universidad de Antofagasta has a careful engineering and monitoring of a series of photovoltaic installations in large residential areas, which it has performed in conjunction with foreign companies. This institution has developed a solid understanding of the important factors to obtain a good performance of the projects and their sustainability in the environmental conditions of the Atacama Desert in the north of Chile. Universidad de Tarapacá (UTA) has developed a multidisciplinary internal body, the “Renewable Energy Center”, which coordinates research facilities and pilot power of various types of science and engineering departments. To date, great efforts have been invested in radiation mapping resources from the different geographic and climatic zones of the Region of Arica y Parinacota, which will ensure an accurate performance forecast for all solar projects. In addition, the UTA is also experienced in the development of projects related to water desalination, estimation of energy consumption in rural communities, and the development of small-scale solar thermal applications. The Chile Foundation (FCH, for its Spanish acronym) and its energy team have vast experience in developing the massive solar potential of the Atacama Desert. Additionally, they sponsor photovoltaic and solar thermal projects. In addition, the foundation played a crucial role in the early development of Solar Chile, which recently received the World Bank’s Global Incubation Award for its large-scale development model of a non-subsidized solar plant, fully implemented in Chile. The experience of the solar technical training of the FCH will provide an ideal model for certain stages of the Ayllu project since, in recent years, 43 solar thermal installation technicians have been trained in four regions of the country –including photovoltaic panels installation courses, developed and implemented with the UTA and the West Valley College of the United States.