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14 September 2010

Mott MacDonald to provide technical services for Extremely Large Telescope in Chile

Mott MacDonald has been appointed to provide technical services by the European Organisation for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere (ESO) for a comparative study of energy alternatives for the proposed development of an ESO observatory which will house the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT). The observatory is to be located in Cerro Armazones in the Atacama desert, Chile.

The E-ELT will be a ground based astronomical observatory with a 42 metre diameter segmented mirror. The telescope’s eye will be almost half the length of a football pitch in diameter and will gather 15 times more light than the largest optical telescopes operating today. If completed, it will become the largest of a new generation of Extremely Large Telescopes.

E-ELT is considered worldwide as one of the highest priorities in ground-based astronomy. The telescope will vastly advance astrophysical knowledge, allowing detailed studies of subjects including planets around other stars, the first objects in the Universe, massive black holes and the nature and distribution of the dark matter and energy which dominate the Universe.

Mott MacDonald, the global engineering management and development consultancy will carry out a comparative study of the alternatives available for the power supply and infrastructure for the E-ELT. The consultancy has already carried out a feasibility analysis to determine 14 alternatives for further analysis. These include supply from grid power, thermal generation (gas turbines, diesel engines) and renewable hybrid systems (solar PV, solar CSP, wind and fuel cells). For these alternatives Mott MacDonald will carry out a feasibility study and risk analysis, a life cycle cost (LCC) analysis as well as develop supporting documentation including layout drawings and single line diagrams. In addition, the consultancy will also undertake a further assessment to help develop the best solution in terms of reliability.

Alan Taylor, Mott MacDonald’s project director said, “We are very excited to be appointed on this project. The E-ELT will tackle the biggest scientific challenges of our time and aim for a number of notable firsts including tracking down Earth-like planets around other stars in the habitable zones where life could exist.”

He continued, “Mott MacDonald has a wealth of expertise in delivering world class power projects and we look forwarding to demonstrating our skills.”

Ends

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