CERN in Geneva plans to idle hadron collider due to threat of energy shortages

CERN in Geneva plans to idle hadron collider due to threat of energy shortages

As the threat of blackouts looms over Switzerland and other areas in Europe, many international companies and research bodies have been announcing their future plans for how they will save energy. Now, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva is planning to spool down its Large Hadron Collider, should the threat of a blackout become a reality.

CERN to slow operations when power is in demand

According to reporting in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), CERN is drafting a plan to pause experiments at the collider during periods of “peak demand” this winter. The 26,6-kilometre-long collider is used by universities and scientists to make new discoveries in particle physics by firing particles at each other at the speed of light. Perhaps their most famous feat was in 2012 when scientists discovered the Higgs boson - more colloquially known as the “God Particle.”

Serge Claudet, the chair of the energy management board at CERN, told the WSJ, “Our concern is really grid stability because we [must] do all we can to prevent a blackout in our region.” While several crucial systems are located underneath Geneva, CERN is actually one of France’s largest single energy consumers, using 200 megawatts of power between mid-May and December - a third as much as the entire Swiss city.

Swiss research facilities and businesses plan to reduce power usage

CERN’s plan, according to the WSJ, is to work together with local energy provider EDF SA, who will inform them a day in advance as to whether to reduce output. CERN will prioritise reducing electricity consumption outside of the collider itself but is also planning to shut down operations if required.

The need to reduce power output has also affected entrepreneurs and businesses from other parts of the country. On Monday, The Stahl Gerlafingen steel plant in Canton Solothurn told SRF that it had been allowed to reduce working hours for its staff, as if they do not slow operations they face an electricity bill of 45 million Swiss francs in October. Many other energy-intensive companies in Switzerland, like steel mills, industrial plants and other heavy industries, are expected to reduce output to avoid the sky-high bills.

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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