Czech scientists struggle with energy costs, ask government for help

The scientific research department at Masaryk University has spoken out about rising energy costs and the impact it has on work while asking the government for assistance.

Scientific institutions across Europe are struggling with high prices, with some turning to their governments for assistance, as the research might be a highly energy-intensive activity.

“For example, in the case of our institute, CEITEC at Masaryk University, the operation of instruments and technologies needed for science accounts for about 90% of the energy consumption in a given year. The energy crisis is, therefore a phenomenon that significantly affects us as scientific institutions,” said Nantl, in the letter.

According to Nantl, governments should provide more sustainable funding for research institutions as these bodies are crucial in tackling global challenges, such as pandemics.

In the Czech Republic, funding for research infrastructures from the Ministry of Education and Youth for 2020 to 2022 amounts to €80 million, with a further €120 million from EU funds.

As Signe Ratso, acting Director of the European Commission’s DG for Research and Innovation, said at the ICRI 2022 conference organised in the Czech Republic on 19-21 October, the impact of the energy crisis on research infrastructures is one of the topics that needs to be addressed.

“Several European laboratories are already working on this. They need to prepare contingency plans,” she said. These plans should be “tailor-made”, as institutions differ and are often in different circumstances.

According to Ratso, factors such as energy costs should be considered even when building new research institutions. “We know that there are already innovative solutions available on the market that make it possible to reduce energy costs,” the EU executive reminded.

A European solution to rising energy prices should also help. While several measures have already been approved, the so-called “dynamic” price cap on gas is still under discussion.

(Aneta Zachová | EURACTIV.cz)

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