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All power plant projects go through a series of well-established stages, from conception of the idea trough the operative phase. Briefly, they can be summarized into three stages:

Prefeasibility and feasibility studies. During this stage projects are studied within the company to determine their level of technical, environmental, legal and socio-political complexity and assess its economic return. At this stage, all information regarding the project is usually considered confidential, thus these projects tend to be unknown to the general public. Still, some projects may appear in the press or be disclosed directly by their developers, which may correspond to the need to raise capital or find partners.

Environmental impact study. Once a project is considered feasible, but before its promoter can begin construction, Chilean regulation requires its environmental impact to be evaluated and mitigatation plans to be established it. The results have to be presented to the Environmental Assessment Service (SEA for its acronym in Spanish), the Environmental Ministry dependant agency responsible for the administration of the Environmental Impact Assessment System (SEIA). The SEA conducts the evaluation process, from the admissibility test to the preparation and presentation of the Consolidated Report of the Environmental Impact Assessment (ICE) to the Evaluation Commission (art. 86 of law 20.417), instance that can approve or reject the project by vote of its members based on the information contained in the ICE.

The project can be submitted to the SEA using the DIA (Environmental Impact Statement) or EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment) format, depending on the characteristics of the project. A DIA is a sworn statement declaring that environmental regulation is met in every aspect, accompanied with evidence that EIA is not required according to environmental regulation. An EIA requires submission of various studies, which can be complex and require considerable time and economic resources (more information on: DIA/EIA content and evaluation process). Therefore, the process associated with a DIA is simpler. A DIA process is usually both faster and substantially cheaper. Typically, smaller projects and Non Conventional Renewable Energy projects (ERNC) such as small run-of-the river units (less than 40 MW), wind farms and solar power plants qualify for DIA format, while large and environmentally complex projects must submit an EIA (more information: EIA enforceability criteria). Following submission for environmental assessment, there are basically five possible states:

  • Under assessment: The study is being evaluated by the SEA.
  • Not admitted: The presented information does not meet minimum requirement that allow it to be evaluated in the first place. For example, if a DIA was submitted when an EIA was required, if essential information is missing, etc.
  • Desisted: The developer decided to withdraw the project from the evaluation process. This may be due to the need for change information regarding the project.
  • Approved: The project has received a positive Environmental Qualification Resolution (RCA) as a result of the evaluation process and therefore holds the required environmental permits for the project. However, other non-environmental permits may be required, such as construction permits.
  • Rejected: The project has received a negative Environmental Qualification Resolution (RCA), which means that based on the information contained in the ICE, the Evaluation Commission voted negatively, considering the project does not comply with the environmental regulation.

Construction. Once all the required permits are obtained (both environmental and non-environmental), if the required financing has been raised and the board approves of it, physical construction of the project can start. This can be carried out in stages (e.g. installing half of the capacity initially and leaving the remainder for future stages) or even a reduction of the total project size can be decided, provided that key characteristics do not change for worse (environmentally speaking).

Completing construction, the project goes into operation. At this point, it formally changes its state from project to power plant, being subtracted from the project database and entering the operational power plant database.

The information in these pages is divided into a list of projects that contains specific information of every power plant project in Chile, a statistics page that provides an overview of the project portfolio in Chile and a map showing the geographic location of the projected power plants. Additionally, a section with detailed information on the environmental assessment process and related statistics is provided.