The instrument VOLPE (volume photoemission from solids) is an experimental setup dedicated to high energy photoemission (PE) experiments. The instrument is equipped with an electrostatic hemispherical spectrometer especially designed to analyze high energy electrons (up to 10 keV) with high resolving power. In order to attain an energy resolution of a few tens of millielectron volts, we designed and constructed a dedicated input lens system, high stability power supplies, and a low dark-count detector and readout electronics. The system has been tested and is now operational on the ID16 beamline at European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, where an optical layout has been developed to perform high energy, high resolution PE experiments. First results show an overall energy resolution (electron + photon) of 71+/-7 meV at 5934 eV. The effective attenuation length of the photoelectrons is estimated to be 5+/-0.5 nm at a kinetic energy of 5 keV. (C) 2005 American Institute of Physics.