Chilean Environmental Evaluation Authority (SEA) publishes Guide for Environmental Evaluation of Solar Projects


The Guide, which applies to both photovoltaic and CSP solar projects, offers orientation regarding the application process for the main environmental permit under Chilean law: the Environmental Qualification Resolution (Resolución de Calificación Ambiental or RCA). Its main goals are the harmonization of legal and technical criteria as well as the reduction of any discretionary powers of the environmental evaluation authority during the environmental evaluation process.

On December 2017 the Chilean Environmental Evaluation Authority (Servicio de Evaluación Ambiental or SEA) published its “Guide for the Description of Projects of Solar Plants for the Generation of Electric Power in the Environmental Impact Assessment System”. The document, which comes into force with immediate effect, provides relevant guidelines for developers of solar projects in connection with the process of applying for an Environmental Qualification Resolution (Resolución de Calificación Ambiental or RCA.

Under Chilean law all power generation plants with capacity above 3 MW, including solar technology, are subject to the Environmental Impact Evaluation System (Sistema de Evaluación de Impacto Ambiental or SEIA) in order to obtain an Environmental Qualification Resolution (RCA). The application for the RCA may adopt the simplified form of an Environmental Impact Statement (Declaración de Impacto Ambiental or DIA) if the project does not have a legally relevant environmental impact or a full Environmental Impact Study (Estudio de Impacto Ambiental or EIA) if the projects triggers relevant environmental consequences.

The Guide applies to solar projects of both photovoltaic and concentrated solar power (CSP) technologies, developed either as an independent unit or as a hybrid or mixed generation plant project. It deals with specific aspects of an application for the Environmental Qualification Resolution (RCA) submitted by the developer of a solar project and, in particular, provides orientation on the main aspects to be taken into consideration in the description of a project during the construction, operation and closure phases. Further, the Guide identifies the potential environmental consequences for the solar projects most frequently found in practice. Finally, the Guide mentions the typical environmental sectorial permits (Permisos Ambientales Sectorales or PAS) which must be obtained in connection with solar projects.

As per December 2017 there are solar projects in Chile with an approved Environmental Qualification Resolution (RCA) amounting to a capacity of approx. 18,000 MW and another 8,000 MW in capacity of projects that are currently undergoing environmental impact evaluation by the environmental authorities.

The complete text of the Guide in Spanish can be found here. Additionally, please find here an English translation of the Table of Contents of the Guide.

Our Latin America Desk advises developers, general contractors and operators of energy projects as well as suppliers and investors from the energy sector in their endeavours in South America. One particular focus is investments in renewable energies (in particular in solar and wind power) in Chile. The range of advisory services provided by our Chilean lawyer (abogado) Edder Cifuentes includes, amongst other things, the legal examination, structuring and acquisition of projects as well as the drafting of the project contracts (EPC/O&M contracts) and the power purchase contracts (PPAs).

We would be pleased to provide you with any further information or advice in the individual case.




Alf Baars


Telephone: +49 221 2091 460
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Edder Cifuentes, M.L.B.

Abogado (Chile)

Telephone: +49 221 2091 461
Telefax: +49 221 2091 333