The Atacama Desert in northern Chile is the driest and most solar radiation the planet. That’s where Subsole, a major national export fruit table, plans for future growth through the use of solar energy and energy efficiency.
With a loan of U.S. $ 32 million and technical assistance from the Interamerican Development Bank (IDB), Subsole plans to increase fruit production by 60 percent over the next four years, mainly by expanding the cultivation in the valley of Copiapo, 800 miles north of Santiago, surrounded by the Atacama desert.
In order to boost production on a competitive basis Subsole plans to build a solar power plant of 300 kWp (kilowatt peak) in the valley to supply their irrigation systems. The new PV, the first in the history of Chilean fruit production, will allow the company to supply water from underground aquifers at a low cost and sustainable way in a region where there is competition for the limited power available with a booming industry mining.
“The solar plant will allow us to reduce the carbon footprint and at the same time ensuring stable energy costs and greater energy efficiency,” said Miguel Allamand Subsole president, who founded the company 20 years ago. Subsole understand the powerful combination of quality and sustainability. Much of its operating costs are allocated to knowledge and technology transfer to farmers.
Thanks to the technical and financial support from the IDB, the company will energy audits in six areas under irrigation, three packaging plants and cold stores. In addition, conduct a feasibility study to implement solar technology in refrigeration, to improve methods of irrigation and water storage, packaging and building core deposits and efficient energy technology, such as frequency converters for hydraulic pumps and water systems and energy management.
The investment will allow Subsole remain at the forefront of table fruit production in Chile. The Santiago-based company is known for its inclusive business model, where the benefits of development of the company are shared with farmers. It was one of the first to implement a certification program for quality control throughout the value chain also pioneered the implementation of benefit programs for employees include: free meals, transportation and housing, actions have particularly benefited women from low income families.
“The investment of Subsole improve sustainability practices and have a great impact on the entire supply chain, will directly benefit 275 small and medium producers and generate over 10,000 jobs directly and indirectly. In total, some 82,000 people will benefit along the supply chain,”said Paola Bazan, project team leader of the Finance Department of the IDB Structured and Corporate. “The investment will ensure that sustainable and responsible corporate practices continue to support innovation, which is central to the strategy of the IDB’s private sector.”