The Member Countries of the European Spallation Source have reached an agreement and secured funding for one of Europe's largest new facilities. That is according to the Swedish Minister of Education and Research Jan Björklund who made the statement at a press conference in Visby, Sweden.
“It has been a long process since the government in 2007 decided that we would try to get this prestigious project to Sweden,” says Björklund. The confirmation to move ahead comes as Germany stated its intention to join the project and pay 11% of the €1,84 billion construction costs. That decision follows months of discussions between the members about financing the construction and operations costs.
"We can only advance major research topics in Europe, if we act with our partners. Together we achieve more,” says Johanna Wanka, German Minister of Education and Research, “We are convinced that major social issues from biology and the life sciences to materials and energy research can be effectively explored in a transnational project with the most modern infrastructure. "
Construction is expected to start in the early autumn and be completed in late 2019. The Swedish Environmental Court recently approved the ESS plan to build just north of Lund, Sweden. From a legal perspective, construction of the facility can now move ahead, and not only in Lund. Scientists and engineers all across Europe were ready for a clear signal to start construction.
"We are thrilled to be able to move ahead, ” says Jim Yeck, ESS Director General and CEO “"Each country went through its own independent process of deciding to join, and fund ESS, and that takes time.”
As a next generation facility, ESS is expected to be significantly brighter and more intense than existing facilities. This makes it possible to probe materials using neutrons at the atomic and molecular level enabling new materials and better understanding of biological processes, helping to develop new products from materials for wind turbines, to mobile phones or new types of batteries.
Europe has led the world for years in research using neutrons to study materials and is home to some of the world's most productive neutron research facilities. The ESS schedule will be a major focus of the project says Yeck. First neutrons are expected by 2019 and the first experiments are planned to begin in 2023.
Contributions by Member Country
To Be Determined **
* 3.5% planned share. 1.4% adopted for the period 2014-2019.
** Discussion ongoing with the Netherlands, Latvia, and Lithuania.