US-based start-up Last Energy has announced a partnership with the NATO Energy Security Center of Excellence (ENSEC COE) to jointly research military applications for micro-nuclear power technologies.

The partnership constitutes the first-ever agreement between the Center and a nuclear energy company and underscores both parties’ belief in the benefits of nuclear energy.

Under the terms of the partnership, both parties agree to work on joint projects around nuclear energy applications for NATO military installations and operations.

“Nuclear energy is unequivocally the most reliable, abundant form of power mankind has ever discovered, and it must become the default solution for NATO militaries as they navigate a new era of great power competition,” said Last Energy CEO Bret Kugelmass.

“No other resource is capable of providing the kind of 24/7 energy security that’s mission critical on military bases, but we will only realize that potential if we miniaturize, modularize, and productize nuclear development. We’re honored to partner with the NATO Energy Security Centre of Excellence, and look forward to creating a roadmap for the adoption of micro-scale nuclear power across NATO installations.”

The NATO Energy Security Centre of Excellence is one of 28 NATO-accredited expert bodies that advise member militaries on strategy and technologies in particular fields. Founded in 2012, the Centre works with partners in industry, academia and government to research and develop solutions for NATO militaries in order to ensure energy resilience and efficiency as well as critical energy infrastructure safety.

The Centre’s partnership with Last Energy is part of a broader pivot by NATO toward prioritizing energy security.

In addition to dramatically reducing the cost and timeline of construction, micro-nuclear plants have minimal water requirements and can be sited nearly anywhere, allowing for a direct power connection and, by extension, enabling the offtaker to circumvent the traditional bandwidth restraints and price volatility of the grid.

Last Energy has signed commercial agreements for over 65 units across Europe. By embracing a completely modular plant design and employing mass manufacturing techniques, Last Energy’s plant, the PWR-20, can be factory fabricated, transported and assembled on-site within 24 months.

The PWR-20 is comprised of a few dozen modules that snap together like a Lego kit and strategically sized to serve, and be co-located by, industrial entities. While a single unit produces 20MWe of electricity (or 80MWt of heat), Last Energy can scale its output to meet the particular needs of the offtaker.

Originally published in Power Engineering International.

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