One of the larger centres for solar energy research in Europe is offering to give free access to individuals throughout the continent.MADRID, Spain, ES, 2001-09-13 [SolarAccess.com] ‘Plataforma Solar de Almería’ is owned by CIEMAT, the Spanish governmental institute for energy research, and is the largest test centre in Europe for industrial applications of concentrating solar technologies. It is offering free access to researchers whose travel and subsistence expenses, as well as facility operating costs, would be covered by the European Commission. Users will be provided with infrastructure, logistical, technical and scientific support. As one of its goals is to increase the competitiveness of renewables on the energy market, CIEMAT will provide free access to PSA facilities for European researchers under the ‘Improving Human Potential’ program’s ‘Enhancing Access to Research Infrastructures’ activity, in order to further promote the option of solar energy within the European research community. The IHP-ARI activity aims to increase the efficiency of scientific activities within the whole European Community by creating conditions that are favorable to the exchange of scientific knowledge and information. It also contributes to optimal use of large European facilities by enhancing trans-national access to major key research infrastructures that are rare or unique in Europe. PSA’s program includes access to a number of facilities: – the Central Electro-Solar de Almería (CESA-1), a 7 MW central receiver system heliostat field and tower receiver for solar thermal electricity production; – the Distributed Collector System, consisting of a single-axis tracking collector field which uses thermal oil as heat transfer medium to test advanced control algorithms; – the Detox Facility, a complete photochemical facility for loop industrial wastewater detoxification using solar UV-spectrum with compound parabolic collector fields, two non-concentrating CPC independent loops, a two-axis tracking collector field, and a photochemical loop with 12 solar collectors; – the Solfin Facility, which applies low concentrating collector systems of CPC collectors; – the Solar Furnace, a 100 m2 parabolic dish reflector that can concentrate up to 3,500 suns attaining more than 2,500oK for thermal testing and treatment of advanced materials; – the Dish/Stirling engine facilities which consist of a 7.5 m diameter metal-membrane concentrator with a solar-powered Stirling motor to generate electricity directly from sunlight; and – the Laboratory for Energetical Testing of Building Components and a solar-powered multi-effect water desalination plant. All the facilities are offered for access to European research groups or individuals, with emphasis on those conducting activities in areas where no similar research infrastructure exists. Proponents are expected to propose their own research projects which would be accepted at one of the facilities. Access periods would typically range from two weeks to two months, with the assistance of the corresponding PSA project leader and facility staff.