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The European Spallation Source (ESS) is one of the largest science infrastructure projects being built in Europe today. Designed to generate neutron beams for science, ESS will benefit a broad range of research, from life science to engineering materials, from heritage conservation to magnetism.

The European Spallation Source is a pan-European project with 15 European nations as members and Sweden and Denmark as host nations. The ESS facility is being built in Lund, while the ESS Data Management and Software Centre (DMSC) is located in Copenhagen.

The construction of ESS began in the summer of 2014, and the planning of the ESS user programme is ongoing. This next-generation research facility is being created through the collective effort of more than 100 partner laboratories around Europe. Together, they are updating and optimising the advanced technical design of the ESS facility and at the same time  exploring how to maximise its research potential.

Vision of ESS

The vision of ESS is to build and operate the world’s most powerful neutron source, enabling scientific breakthroughs in research related to materials, energy, health and the environment, and addressing some of the most important societal challenges of our time.

The facility

The facility design includes a linear proton accelerator, a tungsten target station, two dozen state-of-the-art neutron instruments, a suite of laboratories, and a supercomputing data management and software center. The facility is currently being built in Lund, Sweden and is located next to the world-leading synchrotron light source MAX IV. With the data management centre located in Copenhagen, Denmark this creates a unique cluster of research facilitates in our region that will increase our knowledge of materials, down to molecular and atomic level.

When ESS is finalized in 2025 it is anticipated that 2,000-3,000 guest researchers from universities, institutes and industry will visit ESS each year, making use of the range of neutron instruments to solve their scientific questions.

The Danish Strategy

In the period of 2014-2022, Denmark will invest about DKK 2 billion in the ESS project. Denmark considers these investments sound as it will benefit research and innovation in the short and long run. Experience from other major international research facilities shows that there are a number of significant scientific and societal benefits from hosting a major international research facility like ESS. 

However, the effects of hosting ESS do not occur by themselves. Denmark therefore has taken a strategic approach to increase the likelihood of the project being a success. Against this background, the Minister for Higher Education and Science in 2014 appointed a strategy group with representatives from universities, industry, municipalities and regions who jointly wrote the national ESS-strategy. The strategy sets up clear benchmarks for future actions, and identifies activities for each institution to implement so that Denmark can realize the full potentials embedded in co-hosting the ESS. 

Since 2017, the Danish Agency for Science and Higher Education and central stakeholders have been working on securing the Danish engagements in relation to the ESS. Each year the strategy group produces an action plan, which provides a status for the last year’s progress on a number of milestones. The latest action plan was published in 2019. The main conclusions from the action plan was to initiate a new strategy covering the years 2020-2025. Against this backdrop, central stakeholders such as universities, industry and governmental bodies will discuss areas such as research, industry involvement/innovation and anchoring the facility in the region during the coming year. The strategy process should result in an ESS-strategy 2.0.


  • 2003: European Design of ESS Completed
  • 2009: Decision to site ESS in Lund
  • 2012: ESS Design Update Phase Complete
  • 2014: Construction starts on Green Field Site
  • 2019: Start of Initial Operation Phase
  • 2023: ESS Starts User Program
  • 2025: ESS Construction Phase Complete
last modified May 16, 2019