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 has an international reputation and 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 since January, which are different from those in the R&D Spanish sector (Universities and CSIC), now block PSA spending on 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, have begun to irreversibly undermine the PSA’s ability to continue its groundbreaking research:
The Spanish government is blocking PSA from spending its independent European Union funding
This problem is not related to funding or cash flow, since as a high quality scientific and technical center PSA is successful in getting funding from competitive international R&D calls, but now it is unable to spend these independent funds. From August 2016 to June 2017, PSA was not allowed to buy any new equipment.
Touted as motivated by reducing Spain’s public deficit, the ministerial decision HAP/1169/2016 of 14 July 2016, blocked the purchase of equipment at PSA. This makes no sense. PSA’s European Commission funds have no effect on Spain’s 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 manages high-budget international projects – funded outside of Spain’s national budget
The Spanish Government has curtailed 40% of temporary researcher posts beginning in 2018, even though the PSA has the budget for it. Preventing PSA from spending its funds not only makes it impossible for PSA to participate in new projects, but is also slowing development of research activities on ongoing projects.
The situation is so severe that previously allocated funds have had to be returned to the European Commission, adding interest in some cases. 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, which has contributed strongly to growth, employment and wealth.
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, as demonstrated by the many successful projects completed at PSA when the management norms were different from the present ones.
The PSA’s outstanding reputation has been continuously earned over more than 30 years. But the new norms have now made it impossible to perform appropriate management of a large scientific and technical facility, such as PSA.
We ask that you help apply public pressure to reverse this senseless and damaging ruling. PSA has independent European Union funding, but now cannot spend it. PSA has been continuously reporting about this perilous situation to the authorities through all the official channels at its disposal, but has received no response.