Europe should build a test facility for carbon capture and storage within the next three years according to a roadmap published today by the European Commission. The report also recommends a further ten projects to be constructed across all sciences with three new projects in environmental research alone.

The European Strategy Forum for Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) is part of the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) to forward plan large research projects that would be then recommended to ministers in member states. It splits money across six categories such as energy, biomedical and medical science, and social sciences and humanities. “We wanted to have a roadmap that is unique in the world in that it covers every topic, not just physics and energy,” says Carlo Rizzuto ESFRI chair.

The first roadmap in 2006 recommended 34 projects to be completed across all research areas within the next ten years. These included seven in the physical science such as the €950m European Extremely Large Telescope, an underwater neutrino detector in the Atlantic and the Facility for Antiproton and Ion Research (FAIR) currently being constructed in Darmstadt, Germany.

One more for physical science

The newly revised ESFRI roadmap, published today, recommends one more physical science-based project — the Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA). The CTA, which is expected to be complete in 2017 costing €150m, is a high-energy gamma ray observatory studying gamma rays with energies of tens of GeV to hundreds of TeV.

The €81m European Carbon Dioxide Capture and Storage Laboratory Infrastructure (ECCSEL) is the latest addition to the three existing projects in the energy category, which contains the HiPER fusion facility that will test the possibility of using lasers to ignite fusion in small fuel pellets. “New areas of research such as energy are very important to us,” says French Minister for Higher Education and Research Valerie Pecresse at a press conference in Paris.

Three new projects in environmental sciences are recommended including an upgrade to the Scandinavian-based European Incoherent Scatter (EISCAT) radar system which studies the Earth's atmosphere. The others are a €500m European Plate Observing System (EPOS), which will connect already existing facilities around Europe to study plate tectonics, and a €50m project to upgrade the existing Svalband Integrated Arctic Earth Observing System.

ESFRI has a budget of €1.7bn over seven years, which it uses 60% to support existing facilities and the rest to fund new projects. “The roadmap is the consensus for steering policy in Europe,” says Janez Potocnik, European commissioner for science and research.”It will also be a catalyst to develop national roadmap.”