The 21st ESS Council meeting was held virtually on Wednesday, 7th October. During the meeting, ESS Director General, John Womersley, and members of the ESS Executive Management team reported on progress achieved during the summer.
Despite the many challenges of 2020, ESS continues to make significant progress on delivering the project, and construction is now 73% complete.
ESS offices are repopulated at roughly 50% occupancy, following a careful increase during September with appropriate distancing measures in place. Meanwhile, construction has progressed well with approximately 85-90% of the workforce present on site during the period. ESS continues to actively monitor and respond to the evolving situation in Europe, taking proactive measures when needed; prioritising safety while minimising impact on cost and schedule. Work by In-Kind partners is resuming, as travel restrictions in Europe are reduced – In-Kind staff have returned and are working in Lund again on key tasks such as accelerator installation and commissioning. Meanwhile, the analysis of the impact caused by the pandemic, and subsequent restrictions, is ongoing.
In parallel, the work to secure satisfactory liquidity, and to establish timely cash contributions to ESS from the members progresses. Sweden has adjusted the planned payment schedule to better accommodate the progress and cash flow of the project and the UK reconfirmed its commitment to contribute with 10% for the Initial Operations period until 2025, stating that ESS is an important part of the UK infrastructure capabilities, complementing national facilities. The commitment to close cooperation and full transparency among member states and ESS was reiterated in order to mitigate delays driven by Covid-19 and to reach a set schedule for when contributions are made to ESS. As a complement to this schedule, Council mandated the ESS Director General to finalise negotiations with the consortium of European and Nordic banks on the planned cash facility .