Pandemic causes ESS to adjust project plans

ESS Campus
ESS Campus. Credit: ESS

The ongoing pandemic is significantly impacting the construction of ESS, causing delays and additional costs. For this reason, ESS will launch an action programme to bring the multi-disciplinary research facility to completion.

ESS is, to a large extent, built through in-kind contributions from the 13-member states, in the form of technical equipment, personnel and support services provided by over 40 in-kind partners throughout Europe. Since the breakout of the Covid-19 pandemic last year, planned deliveries of technical equipment and installation works in the facility have been substantially impacted by national lockdowns and travel restrictions in the member countries.

At this point, delivery delays between five and ten months are expected, but with the ongoing pandemic this is subject to change. The accumulating delays lead to impacts on the overall timeline and additional costs for ESS, at the same time as the member countries’ budgets have become more strained as a result of the pandemic.

Consequently, the ESS Council has tasked ESS management with developing an action programme that ensures project completion within the available resources, adjusting cost and timeline. The programme will be presented to Council during spring and implemented in conjunction with a full reassessment of the ESS project schedule that will take place in the autumn.

This challenging situation requires strong and present leadership on site, and Director General John Womersley has, due to the travel restrictions, recently decided to step down with immediate effect. ESS Council has appointed Technical Director Kevin Jones as Acting Director General until the ongoing recruitment process for a new ESS Director General is finalised.

Despite the pandemic, civil construction work on site has continued to progress and all the buildings at ESS will be completed this year, according to plan.