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The "Mi Ayllu Solar" competition for funding solar energy-based projects in communities in the Arica and Parinacota Region of Chile was launched at the University of Tarapacá on Thursday, 26 April. 
The competition forms part of the Ayllu Solar project implemented by SERC Chile (Solar Energy Research Center) with the support of the BHP Billiton Foundation. The project aims to enable the region’s urban and rural Indigenous communities to harness the power of solar energy to create opportunities for their social and economic development.

The project forms part of the BHP Billiton Foundation’s Chile Country Program Strategy and the ceremony was attended by Foundation Chief Executive James Ensor and Foundation Chile Country Program Director Alejandra Garcés.  James and Ale also visited two community enterprises supported through the project to boost the incomes and livelihoods of communities through using solar energy:  A fruit and vegetable processing centre (dehydrator) in Caleta Vitor and the site where a camelid fibre collection and processing centre will be built in Visviri.

Speaking at the competition launch, James highlighted the importance of encouraging the development of projects based on renewable energy: "The introduction of a solar energy program focused on people in the north of Chile is supporting the sustainable development of communities and generating new opportunities that will improve their ability to adapt to the rapid socio-economic and environmental changes that this generation faces.”

SERC Chile is comprised of the University of Tarapacá, University of Antofagasta, University of Chile, Technical University of Federico Santa María, University of Adolfo Ibañez, the Pontificial Catholic University of Chile, University of Concepción and Fraunhofer Chile Research Centre

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