Accelerating sustainability in large-scale facilities

Scientific research centres and large-scale facilities are intrinsically energy intensive, but how can big science improve its energy management and eventually contribute to the environmental cause with new cleantech? CERN’s commitment to providing tangible answers to these questions was sealed in the first workshop on energy management for large scale scientific infrastructures held in Lund, Sweden, on the 13-14 October.


Participants at the energy management for large scale scientific infrastructures workshop.

The workshop, co-organised with the European Spallation Source (ESS) and  the European Association of National Research Facilities (ERF), tackled a recognised need for addressing energy issues in relation with science and technology policies. It brought together more than 150 representatives of Research Infrastrutures (RIs) and energy experts from Europe and North America. “Without compromising our scientific projects, we can change the way we manage energy, improving both energy efficiency and energy recovery,” says Frederick Bordry, Head of CERN’s Technology Department and scientific co-organiser of the workshop. “Today it is well understood that energy consumption is key when designing new scientific projects. For example, one of the CLIC project challenges is to reduce energy consumption drastically and to improve energy recovery.”

Workshop participants recognised the need for in depth understanding of each laboratory’s energy consumption by mapping existing and potential energy usages. With this aim, CERN recently appointed Helfried Burckhart as the first Energy Coordinator. Hosted by the GS Department, Helfried will, among other things, gather information and conduct a quantitative audit of all forms of energies used at CERN. He will also investigate possibilities of energy savings, work out proposals for use of renewable energies, and act as contact for external enquiries.

Big science is not just a big energy consumer: technologies emerging from the construction and running of particle accelerators can be further developed and used, for example, to recover energy and produce energy using renewable sources.  “In this respect, CERN has an important role to play,” says Bordry. “This workshop was also an opportunity for CERN’s engineers to present technologies which can be used for the benefit of the environment.”

The two-day discussions on energy quality and efficiency, recuperation, and cleantechs ended with a unanimous wish to have more opportunities to share knowledge on these topics. “CERN is candidate for hosting, in two years, the second workshop on energy management,” announces Bordry. “It could be an opportunity for us to help develop a common approach to energy management for large-scale facilities.”

by Marina Giampietro