Save the largest research center in solar thermal energy, Plataforma Solar de Almería

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The Plataforma Solar de Almería (PSA) is the most important research center in the world devoted to solar thermal concentrating technologies, leading international projects and initiatives driven and supported by the European Union.

PSA is classified as a “unique scientific and technical infrastructure” (ICTS) in Spain and as a “Large Scientific Installation” by the European Commission. However, restrictive norms imposed by the Spanish Government, which are different from those in the R&D Spanish sector (Universities and CSIC), block research activities and therefore block the development of the projects at PSA.

These obstructive norms, imposed by the Spanish Government to Research Public Bodies from January 2016, are undermining the PSA’s international reputation in an irreversible manner. The PSA’s prestige has been continuously built over more than 30 years. But the new norms make it impossible to perform appropriate management of a large scientific and technical facility, such as PSA. PSA manages high-budget international projects funded outside of the national budget.

This condition not only makes it impossible for PSA to participate in new projects, but also prevents the appropriate development of research activities on ongoing projects. The situation is so severe that some funds have had to be returned to the European Commission, adding interest in some cases.

This problem is not related to funding or cash flow, since PSA is a high quality scientific and technical center and has successfully managed to get funds from competitive international R&D calls, but because of the inability to spend such funds. From August 2016 to June 2017, PSA was not allowed to buy any new equipment. The ministerial decision HAP/1169/2016 of 14 July 2016, focused on reducing the public deficit, blocked the purchase of equipment at PSA. This makes no sense since funds at PSA coming from the European Commission do not affect the national public deficit. This measure will not only contribute to the investment losses in Spain, but also to the loss of jobs, prestige and credibility to get funds in future research project calls.

The situation is deteriorating due to the imposition of the new restrictive norms. PSA has been continuously reporting about this perilous situation through all the official channels at its disposal without getting any positive response from the authorities.

The restrictive norms imposed by the Spanish Government must be changed as a matter of urgency since they are causing irreversible damage to the R&D activities at PSA. Transparency and control must allow the development of research projects funded by the European Union which contribute to growth, wealth and employment. This has been demonstrated by the number of successful projects finished at PSA when the management norms were different from the present ones.

The Spanish Government will not allow joining up the 40% of temporary researcher posts at the beginning of 2018, even though the PSA has the necessary budget to do so. This situation will severely damage the PSA as an international reference point in science, and will lead to a loss in competitiveness in international R&D calls which could contribute strongly to growth, employment and wealth.

Please sign this petition to demand that the Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness changes all the required norms to fully allow the PSA to properly perform its R&D activities.

Versión en Castellano aquí.



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