How the energy crisis affects the finances of France’s research laboratories and universities

A flagship of French research, the Soleil synchrotron, close to Saclay (Essonne), should shut for a number of weeks subsequent 12 months on account of an excessively excessive electrical energy invoice, which operates round the clock, seven days every week? And, with it, will different main research amenities or laboratories shut down their operations?

A couple of weeks in the past, Jean Deilant acquired an estimate of electrical energy consumption thrice the quantity for 2022, i.e. about 17 million euros. “With the quantity introduced for 2023, it can undoubtedly not move”observes the managing director of Soleil, a tool designed to unlock the intimate secrets and techniques of matter, from high-tech supplies to prehistoric fossils and artifacts.

The energy crisis is plunging into uncertainty for universities and research institutes, that are seeing their payments rise this 12 months. According to the first estimates of the Ministry of Higher Education and Research, the extra prices related to the enhance in fluid and energy costs will attain a minimum of 80 million euros for universities and 40 million euros for research institutes. , “Significant sums to be made”Minister Sylvie Retailleau defined, throughout a listening to in the Senate, July 20.

Read extra: The article is reserved for our subscribers Sylvie Retailleau: “We should acknowledge the proper to make errors and reinvent ourselves after a 12 months of research”

The further prices do not cease there: carried out from 1er In July, a 3.5% enhance in index factors – that are used to calculate the salaries of public officers – is due, in 2022, to 370 million euros for universities and 120 million euros for research institutes. Faced with this distinctive overrun, dozens of establishments have already been compelled to dip into their working capital, a monetary reserve usually reserved for investments reminiscent of buyouts. Whether giant academic amenities or renovating their buildings, universities are amongst the most vital actual property property in the state.

Added to this are the intangible prices related to college salaries, which turn into extra vital as employees age and progress of their careers. Since 2019, the Ministry of Higher Education has stopped paying the prices of “technical old-age transition” (GVT) amounting to 80 million euros in 2022.

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Earlier this 12 months, a number of utility payments had already risen by greater than 40% for a number of months. The fault of one provider, Hydropsion, the winner of a public contract, went bankrupt in 2021 and compelled the firm to make an emergency change with an upward revision of the initially negotiated value. The CNRS and a number of universities had been involved about the outcomes of the laboratories’ operations. “As of February, we’ve got elevated what we’ve got taken from the research crew’s personal assets to cowl an extra price of round 50,000 euros on earlier years’ payments of 225,000 euros”Alain Couret withdrew, director Center for the Development of Materials and Structural Research (SIMES) in Toulouse.

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