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The Large Hadron Collider Could Soon Be Idled – Because Europe Is Facing A Huge Energy Crisis

Europe’s Energy Crisis Could Force The Large Hadron Collider To Be Idled

The European energy crisis is not only upsetting business owners and household finances, but it is also affecting critical scientific research.

The European Organization for Nuclear Research, CERN, the world’s largest particle physics lab and home of the Large Hadron Collider, could shut down some accelerators amid Europe’s severe energy crisis, according to Serge Claudet, chair of the centre’s energy management panel, Wall Street Journal reported.

Europe is witnessing an unprecedented energy crisis due to the Nord Stream pipeline shutdown, low nuclear power generation in France, a power crisis in Switzerland, and sky-high gas and power costs.

Due to skyrocketing gas and energy prices, large European industrial businesses have already announced plant or production line closures, while European governments are formulating plans to potentially control gas supplies to sectors based on their individual needs.

The problem worsened at the end of last week when Russian gas giant Gazprom announced on Friday that Nord Stream would remain closed until “operational defects in the equipment are rectified,” increasing the ante in its gas dispute with Europe.

The ongoing suspension of Russian gas deliveries through the major pipeline to Germany came as little surprise to most European nations; they had anticipated such a move from Putin. This, however, does not make the EU’s burden of keeping the lights and heating on this winter any easier. Switzerland and France, whose grids CERN relies on to power its supercollider and seven other particle accelerators for researching matter and two decelerators for examining antimatter, are among the hardest hit.

Switzerland has conceded that it may have to rely on oil for energy generation this winter as Europe deals with low levels of Russian natural gas supply, which may be reduced further or cut off entirely.

In addition, last month, year-ahead power rates in France reached $1,001 per megawatt-hour for the first time. French electricity rates have already risen tenfold in the previous year, as the country’s nuclear power generation issues have worsened at the worst possible time.

From May until mid-December, the Large Hadron Collider, the world’s largest and most powerful particle accelerator, operates. After a three-and-a-half-year hiatus for upgrades, the collider was reactivated in July. However, in light of the global energy crisis, CERN is now considering how to shut it down.

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

According to the head of CERN’s energy management panel, CERN and its power supplier, EDF, are currently exploring the potential of instituting daily warnings for power grid instability at the research complex to identify when it would need to preserve energy and consume less electricity. He stated that the group would first shut down other accelerators before perhaps shutting down the world’s largest particle accelerator. CERN may reduce its power consumption by 25% by shutting down some other accelerators.