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ABB and CERN identify 17.4% energy-saving opportunity in the Laboratory’s cooling and ventilation motors

Through a strategic research partnership focused on CERN’s cooling and ventilation systems, energy efficiency audits have helped to identify a savings potential of 17.4% across a total of 800 motors


CERN's cooling and ventilation system

CERN and ABB Motion, a global company specialised in digitally enabled motor and drive solutions to support a low-carbon future for industry, infrastructure and transportation, started collaborating in 2022 to reduce the energy consumption of CERN’s cooling and ventilation systems. (Image: CERN)

In a joint research project conducted between 2022 and 2023, ABB and CERN developed a roadmap for reducing the energy consumption of CERN’s cooling and ventilation systems via data-driven energy efficiency audits. These systems are responsible for the cooling and ventilation of CERN’s accelerator complex, experimental areas and data centres. The roadmap identified potential annual energy savings of up to 31 gigawatt-hours (GWh). If achieved, these savings could be enough to power more than 18,000 European households(1) and could avoid 4 kilotonnes of CO2 emissions(2), the same as planting 420,000 trees(3).

Energy efficiency audits involve evaluating the performance and efficiency of motors, based on their operating data. Such audits help large facilities like CERN to identify the most significant energy-saving opportunities across whole groups of motors. CERN and ABB experts assessed a wide variety of data from motors used for various cooling and ventilation applications. They combined data from multiple sources, including digitally connected motors, CERN’s supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system, which is responsible for the control and monitoring of the cooling and ventilation installations, and data gathered directly from pumps, piping and instrumentation. The experts analysed the efficiency of the whole system in order to pinpoint the motors that present the best business case for energy efficiency upgrades.

Giovanni Anelli, Head of CERN’s Knowledge Transfer group, said, “The collaboration with ABB was set up with the aim of optimising the Laboratory’s cooling and ventilation infrastructure to reduce its energy consumption, and is in line with CERN’s commitment to minimise its environmental footprint as well as to share the findings publicly for the benefit of society. It’s an excellent example of collaboration where each side brings its own contribution to the table. CERN brings its large-scale infrastructure and ABB contributes with its technology and service expertise. We are very happy with the final result of this research project as we have exceeded our goal of identifying a 10-15% energy efficiency improvement.”

“We are proud to cooperate with CERN and to support its goal to conduct physics research with a low-carbon footprint by helping it to improve the energy efficiency of its cooling and ventilation systems,” said Erich Labuda, President of the Motion Services division at ABB.

CERN’s next step will be to selectively upgrade motors with the highest energy-saving potential, based on the data collected during the audit.

(1) EU average (~1670 kWh/year)

(2) Electricity Maps | Live 24/7 CO2 emissions of electricity consumption

(3) How Much CO2 Does A Tree Absorb? – One Tree Planted


Read the press release published by ABB today.