Forest fires are advancing by gigantic steps in Spain. Last year, the burned surface it multiplied by three compared to the previous year and added more than 250,000 burned hectares. Early data for this year point to a worrying trend. In Catalonia, for example, the first quarter with the most fires in 10 years has been recorded. To deal with this «scourge of fire», the Government is preparing to invest at least 15 million of euros in innovation projects for the prevention, control and extinction of forest fires.

As EL PERIÓDICO has learned, the Ministry of Science is opening a call specifically focused on R&D projects on fires. This same Tuesday the preliminary consultation phase to identify them ideas, technologies and tools that are already on the market. Then, between the months of June and July, open a public call endowed with a minimum of 15 million euros to finance the most promising initiatives in the field of prevention, monitoring and extinction of fires. The budget could increase further depending on the selected projects.

aerial systems

The call, which will be launched by the Center for Technological Development and Innovation (CDTI), will be especially focused on the development of state-of-the-art air systems for the surveillance, prevention, containment and monitoring of fires in Spain. The projects will have to respond to «technological challenges» such as, for example, the creation of aircraft with a capacity between 1,000 and 3,000 liters of discharge; unmanned aircraft for the control and management of the different phases of fires; and unmanned aircraft for the launch of guided charges.

The call will be especially focused on the creation of state-of-the-art aerial systems

This type of autonomous aerial platforms have become one of the great promises for extinguishing large fires since, on the one hand, they allow us to approach areas that are difficult to access and, on the other hand, contribute to control tasks of the forest bodies. In recent years, more and more experts have warned about the risks of so-called «sixth generation fires» or «superfires»: more violent, destructive, fast and difficult to extinguish fires.

innovative prototypes

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The objective of this new call, according to sources consulted by this newspaper, is not to finance the purchase of products already on the market, but to contribute to develop new innovative projects who can fight against the scourge of fire in Spain. This mechanism allows, on the one hand, to develop innovative prototypes and, on the other, to test them in real environments. At this time, there is various autonomous communities interested in disposition of the new technological tools developed in this call. The Generalitat Valenciana stands out among the main stakeholders in this call against fires.

This mechanism has already been used in the past to finance innovation projects in different sectors. In March, for example, the first prototypes of a new technology that allows keep organs in better condition for possible transplants. These types of projects are financed directly by the Ministry of Science and complemented with European funds (FEDER). Since 2020, almost €64 million for the development of this type of initiative.