CERN considers switching Large Hadron Collider to ‘idling’ mode amid energy crisis

·2-min read
CERN considers switching Large Hadron Collider to ‘idling’ mode amid energy crisis

Scientists at the Large Hadron Collider are considering switching it into “idling” mode because of the surging cost of energy.

Researchers at the The European Organization for Nuclear Research, or CERN, are drawing up plans to take some of its particle accelerators offline because of their large demands on the energy grid.

The world’s largest and most powerful particle accelerator could even be put into an ‘idling’ state, if necessary, said Serge Claudet, chair of the centre’s energy management panel.

He told the Wall Street Journal: “Our concern is really grid stability, because we do all we can to prevent a blackout in our region”.

CERN, on the French-Swiss border, is one of France’s largest electricity consumers and can consume a third as much power as the nearby city of Geneva at peak operation.

The world's largest superconducting solenoid magnet at CERN's Large Hadron Collider (AFP/Getty Images)
The world's largest superconducting solenoid magnet at CERN's Large Hadron Collider (AFP/Getty Images)

Mr Claudet said the priority was to keep the LHC operating and to avoid a sudden shutdown. He added that it was in discussions with its supplier, French-owned EDF SA, to have a day’s warning if the centre needs to consume less energy.

In that case, CERN would give priority to shutting down other accelerators besides the LHC.

“It’s a voluntary action,” he said. “You don’t want to break your toy.”

It comes after Russia warned earlier this week that it will not resume gas supplies to Europe until Western sanctions are lifted.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov blamed the “collective West” for its decision to shut down flows through the crucial Nord Stream pipeline.

Gazprom’s decision not to turn the Nord Stream pipeline back on after three days of maintenance sparked a rise in gas prices and has left EU countries scrambling to roll out emergency measures.

While the UK is not reliant on Nord Stream 1 for its gas, the Kremlin’s decision to squeeze supplies to Europe has driven up the overall cost of wholesale gas.