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CERN identifies potential 17.4% energy savings to meet initiative goal

March 4, 2024
Joint-partnership analysis with ABB helps the particle-physics institute find opportunities to cut cooling and ventilation energy use

Through a strategic research partnership focused on the cooling and ventilation system at CERN’s particle physics laboratory in Geneva, Switzerland, ABB and the European Laboratory for Particle Physics, have identified energy-saving potential. The study included energy-efficiency audits, which have helped to identify a reported savings potential of 17.4% across a fleet of 800 motors.

The research, conducted between 2022 and 2023, followed an agreement between ABB and CERN, which saw the partners developing a roadmap for reducing the energy consumption of the site’s cooling and ventilation system via data-driven energy efficiency audits. It has identified potential annual energy savings of up to 31 GWh.

Energy-efficiency audits work by evaluating the performance and efficiency of motors based on their operational data. Audits help large facilities such as CERN’s to identify the most significant energy-saving opportunities across whole fleets of motors.

“The collaboration with ABB was set up with the aim of optimizing the laboratory’s cooling and ventilation infrastructure to reduce its energy consumption and is in line with CERN’s commitment to minimize its environmental footprint as well as to share the findings publicly for the greater impact on society,” said Giovanni Anelli, head of the Knowledge Transfer group at CERN. “It’s a great example of a collaboration where each side brings their 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.”

CERN and ABB analysts assessed a wide variety of data from motors in various cooling and ventilation applications. They combined data from multiple sources, including digitally connected motors, CERN’s supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system and data gathered directly from pumps, piping and instrumentation. The efficiency of the whole system was analyzed to provide insights to pinpoint the motors with the best business case for energy efficiency upgrades.

“We are proud to cooperate with CERN and support its ambition to conduct physics research with a low-carbon footprint, by helping them to achieve more energy-efficient operations of their cooling and ventilation systems,” said Erich Labuda, president of the Motion Services division at ABB. “This research project represents another step in CERN’s energy-efficiency journey. As an institution with a large installed base of motors, working with CERN is a great example of how we can support in making a big impact in improving energy efficiency as part of the transition to a low-carbon society.”

Cooling and ventilation systems are a fantastic first place to look for energy efficiency upgrades, Labuda elaborated. “This is because they are often overdesigned, being specified to operate at a maximum load way above the average,” said Labuda. “In fact, we found one pump motor at CERN with an energy-saving potential of 64%. It is also important to not just evaluate motor efficiency, but the system as a whole, including the fans, condensers and cooling towers. This holistic approach supports the improvement of CERN’s overall energy efficiency and reliability.”

CERN’s next step is to create a roadmap for the upgrade of the first motors to the solutions recommended as part of the energy-efficiency audit: IE5-rated synchronous reluctance motors (SynRMs) operating with variable-speed drives (VSDs). These motors will also be digitally connected, enabling condition-monitoring solutions to accurately monitor their health and performance to ensure maximum uptime.

CERN is located on the French-Swiss border, with its headquarters in Geneva. Its member states are Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Cyprus, Estonia and Slovenia are associate member states in the pre-stage to membership. Croatia, India, Latvia, Lithuania, Pakistan, Turkey and Ukraine are associate member states. The European Union, Japan, JINR, the Russian Federation, UNESCO and the United States have observer status. The observer status of the Russian Federation and of JINR is suspended in accordance with the CERN Council Resolutions of March 8, 2022, and March, 25, 2022, respectively.

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