The future of energy efficiency at large research centres

Solar panels are installed on the roof of one of CERN's restaurants (Image: Maximillien Brice/CERN)

The organization of the COP21 climate conference in Paris in December  cannot fail to remind us how important the issue of energy is for our society.

Over the last few years  many research organizations, like CERN, have joined the debate, and begun to look at what we ourselves can do to save or recover energy and thus improve our energy management.

As a collective, we have already learned a lot together and I believe it is essential that we continue to share our experiences in order to improve our practices. The terms “energy efficiency” and “sustainable development” should not frighten our institutes. On the contrary, this endeavour is a chance to improve our tools and processes and should offer us new economic, technological and social opportunities.

Our scientific institutions have proven their ingenuity in the development of innovative strategies and technologies for research. And, as experts in vacuum, superconductivity and cryogenics technologies, we have at our disposal numerous tools and skills that should enable us to make progress and to develop technologies that benefit our infrastructures, as well as perhaps society and humanity too.

Energy transport, storage and optimization, waste energy recovery: there are many new things for us to invent. Although we still have some way to go, I am delighted to see that since the first workshop four years ago, many people and organizations have joined us in this now global debate, and that many organizations, including CERN, have appointed an energy coordinator.

In any case, the fact that we are all starting to come together around this topic is an encouraging sign, and the discussions at the third workshop “Energy for Sustainable Science at Research Infrastructures” at DESY set us on the right track for good progress in the future.

To learn more about CERN's energy efficiency programme you can read our update here

This opinion article was originally published in the Energy for Sustainable Science at Research Infrastructures conference programme.