The Chilean Environmental Impact Assessment Service ("Servicio de Evaluación Ambiental", SEA) published a 34-page document on 29 March 2023 that sets out new criteria for assessing the environmental impact of green hydrogen production projects.
These criteria become part of the Environmental Impact Assessment System ("Sistema de Evaluación de Impacto Ambiental", SEIA), which has already existed since 1997. With its help, the SEA verifies before a project is realised whether it complies with the applicable regulations on environmental protection and imposes risk mitigations measures for potential environmental impacts. According to OECD, in recent years Chile has significantly strengthened its institutional framework for environmental management and reinforced the regulatory framework, although implementation challenges remain.
Uniform criteria apply to entire value chain
The new criteria apply to all project developers that are part of the green hydrogen value chain: from production and processing to storage, reconversion, transport and distribution. An important objective of the introduction of the new criteria is to reflect that the green hydrogen value chain does not necessarily consist in the development of a single project in several stages, but rather in different projects with different typologies. The environmental assessment is to be carried out for each individual project and is limited to those parts of the value chain that are part of the project being evaluated.
The recently published document introduces the concept of "integrated project description", which means that, for the environmental assessment, the SEA can also use available information on other projects that either already exist or are being assessed in parallel in the SEIA. This is intended to provide a broader basis for assessing the worst-case scenario in terms of environmental impacts. The relevant environmental legislation requires this worst-case assessment.
Synergy effects will now be considered
At the same time, the new assessment criteria make possible to take into account any synergy effects that the project under evaluation may bring. These can outweigh any negative environmental impacts that would, by themselves, require the respective project developer to submit an environmental impact study under the Chilean Law No. 19.300 ("General Law on Environmental Protection").
CORFO launches a RFI regarding electrolyzer technology projects in Chile
In a further step in the deployment of Chile's Green Hydrogen Strategy, the Chilean Industrial Development Agency CORFO has published recently a request for information in order to identify companies and initiatives regarding the setting up of production or assembly capacity of electrolyzers in Chile. The tender process aims at inserting Chile in the global value chain in manufacturing of electrolyzer technology.
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