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World’s largest particle collider at risk over EU energy crunch

CERN’s European Nuclear Research Center (CERN), scientists are concerned that the European nuclear center might need to stop particle accelerators in order to conserve energy.

The European energy crisis is threatening to affect the world’s largest particle accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the head of the European nuclear research center (CERN) energy management panel, Serge Claudet, has admitted.

He told the Wall Street Journal that the agency was currently working on contingency planning, which could see the LHC close down for energy conservation at peak hours.

“Our concern is really grid stability, because we do all we can to prevent a blackout in our region,” Claudet said. He said that scientists would continue to operate the LHC and avoid the sudden shut down of the machine worth $4.4 billion.

The LHC is one of eight particle accelerators located at CERN’s sprawling complex on the border between France and Switzerland. It is also one of France’s largest energy consumers, requiring some 200 megawatts of power during its peak operation periods. It consumes about three times as much power in Geneva.

CERN is hoping to reach an agreement with its energy supplier – the French state power giant EDF SA – and wants at least a day’s notice in the event that it has to reduce its energy consumption.

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According to Claudet, the current strategy of the center is to shut down all other accelerators in order lower its consumption by 25%, but maintain the LHC operational.

According to energy management panel chief, shutting down LHC could save 25% more. However, it would also set back any experiments involving the collider by weeks, since it requires a large amount of power even when it’s not being used. CERN is currently working on a plan that it will present to governments funding the center in September.

Europe is facing an acute energy crisis linked to Brussels’ plans to rid the bloc of Russian energy supplies amid Moscow’s ongoing military operation in Ukraine. Russia also cut its gas exports from Europe due to technical problems arising out of sanctions imposed by the West over the conflict.

France now faces additional problems with its energy supply after corrosion was found in piping that is used to power some of its nuclear reactors. Some 12 of these were taken out of operation for repair, further reducing the country’s power supply.

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