Cabinet adopts plans for Einstein telescope in southern Limburg border

The planned investment of €42 million will go to preparatory work such as devising the necessary technology, site research, and building a high technology Ecosystem and regulation. With a reservation of 870 million, the Netherlands has an excellent basis for future progress, together with Belgium and Germany, to achieve the Einstein telescope in the border region of southern Limburg.

However, the government is requesting additional clarification of the valuation strategy for the scientific project. Initiators are also required to develop a project follow-up and evaluation plan. Of course the respective partners will comply with these terms in due course.

A proposal to award funds from the National Growth Fund for the Einstein Telescope was submitted on October 31, 2021 by the Minister of Education, Culture and Science (OCW), supported by the Economic Affairs and Climate Fellow (EZK).

The National Institute of Subatomic Physics Nikhef, the province of Limburg and the regional development company LIOF developed the growth fund proposal last year, with the support of the ministries of education, culture and science and EZK.

Limburg Provincial Deputy Stefan Saten is very excited about the opportunities presented by the potential access of the Einstein telescope to the Netherlands and Limburg:

With today’s decision, the Cabinet puts our country at the forefront of high technology and science around the world. Limburg is the logical place to help shape this leadership position. Not only because our Earth is suited to the Einstein telescope, but also because we are as accustomed as everyone else to cooperating internationally and thus linking science and business. I am pleased and proud that the Cabinet recognizes the value of Limburg and is helping to increase it with such a huge investment. In addition to direct corporate missions, the Einstein Telescope gives Limburg and the Netherlands a unique leadership in knowledge, expertise and innovative technologies that can be commercialized by existing or new companies. This is necessary for the economic development of the Netherlands in the medium term and, above all, in the long term.

Nikhef Director Stan Bentfelsen has been involved with the Einstein telescope for years. He is pleased, but also sees that there is still a lot of work to be done: “It is wonderful that the government has embraced the ambition to make the Netherlands a world leader in gravitational wave research. These growth fund resources form the basis for further collaboration with our partners in Germany and Belgium and for further research into the geological soils of the southern Limburg border region. A major project that requires an operation minute, and we put our heart and soul into it. I am confident we will meet the additional conditions.”

About the Einstein telescope

The Einstein Telescope is a futuristic underground observatory that measures gravitational waves. Powerful lasers there will soon be reflected between the ultra-cool, vibration-free mirrors at the ends of the kilometre-long vacuum tunnels. The instrument will be more sensitive than current detectors. As a result, the instrument can detect many sources and scan the size of the universe a thousand times larger. For example, researchers are looking for the exact composition of neutron stars, the birth process of black holes, and the structure of the universe immediately after the Big Bang.

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One of the possible locations of this observatory is the border area of ​​South Limburg – Origio Mas – Rhein. Housing the Einstein telescope in this area could have a significant positive impact on science, the economy and society in the Netherlands. With promised investments from the National Growth Fund, the Netherlands has the basis to establish a strong candidacy in 2024/2025, together with Belgium and Germany.

Megan Vasquez

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