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Sustainability important issue in development of Einstein Telescope

A working group from Nikhef, Maastricht University and other institutions is investigating sustainability aspects of the Einstein Telescope. Their analysis ranges from preparations and construction to the operational phase and the aftercare phase when the observatory is no longer in use.

The research process identifies knowledge gaps. The insights and concrete results of that research, in which various disciplines are involved, will also receive attention in the bid book, where a chapter will be devoted to the way in which sustainability is applied. That bid book must be ready in 2025.


The working group is considering questions such as which sustainable materials can be used in the construction of the Einstein Telescope. And in what way can the construction of the Einstein Telescope boost the circular economy in a broad sense?

In addition to sustainability in relation to the environment and economy, the working group is also paying attention, for example, to sustainable tourism in the cross-border region. This is based on the assumption that the Einstein Telescope will soon attract new tourists.


Nicole Rijkens-Klomp of the Maastricht Sustainability Institute of Maastricht University and Rob van der Meer of Nikhef are leading the working group. The project is being carried out in co-creation with other faculties within the university and with experts from knowledge institutions and organizations working on sustainability issues.

Nicole Rijkens: “It is good that there is a focus on sustainability from the beginning. We started very broadly with the theme of sustainability based on the question of what the arrival of the telescope means for the environment, the economy and people.” Topics covered include soil, nature and what it means for those living in the vicinity of where the telescope will eventually be built. “All those questions we then discuss for local, regional, national and international levels. We look not only at the sustainability effects of the Einstein Telescope, but also at the potential for sustainability: there are quite a few knobs we can turn to make the telescope as sustainable as possible.”


Rob van der Meer cautions that the outcomes and recommendations of the working group cannot be expected tomorrow or the day after: “We cannot perfectly predict the future sustainability of the telescope. There are still quite a few questions about its exact impact. The Einstein Telescope involves a project with a time span of about 100 years from construction to a telescope no longer operational. When you make such a leap in time, it is also important to think about future changes that will affect the region and the telescope. After all, the world will not stand still.”

Sustainability is one of the topics being investigated within the Einstein Telescope Technologies (ETT) project. This project is being implemented within the OPZuid 2014-2020 programme and has been made possible partly through funding from the European Regional Development Fund, the State and the Province of Limburg under REACT-EU.

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