Small Modular Reactors

Poland / Enea Group To Work With US-based Last Energy On SMR Development

By Kamen Kraev
28 June 2022

US startup offers 20-MW plants with tight deployment schedules
Enea Group To Work With US-based Last Energy On SMR Development
Polish energy group Enea joins the ranks of local companies interested in developing SMRs as ways to reach carbon-neutrality and secure energy supply. Image courtesy Enea.
Polish state-controlled energy group Enea and US-based small modular reactor (SMR) startup Last Energy have signed а letter of intent for the joint development and potential deployment of 20-MW nuclear plants in Poland.

Enea said in a statement that deploying nuclear reactor units is in line with the company’s development strategy which envisions the creation of new business opportunities and achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.

Pawel Majewski, chief executive of Enea, said the company will be able to use the SMR technology to build its own production capacity and market solutions for the industry and for Poland.

“Commercialisation of SMR solutions will have a positive impact on energy security, the environment, and the competitiveness of the Polish economy,” Mr Majewski said.

According to the statement, Enea and Last Energy agreed on the possibility of setting up a jointly owned company in Poland for the purpose of the project.

The signing event last week was attended by Polish minister of state assets Jacek Sasin, who said: “This is a historic moment. We show that in practice we are building Poland's long-term energy security”.

“We want nuclear energy – the traditional, large and state-built energy, as well as the micro-dimension – to be our future,” Mr Sasin said.

Poland wants to build from 6,000 to 9,000 MW of installed nuclear capacity based on proven, large-scale, pressurised water reactor (PWR) technology, with commercial operation of a first unit in a proposed set of six is planned for 2033.

Large players in the energy and heavy industries like Orlen, Synthos, KGHM, ZEPAK, have separately been showing interest in the development and deployment of SMR units for industrial use in addition to conventional nuclear.

Last Energy said it provides the full cycle of nuclear project development for customers including design, construction, financing, service and maintenance of installations, fuel supply and waste collection and decommissioning of the power plant at the end of its operation.

The company said its SMR plant leverages a proven PWR and fully modular plant design, and its development model aims to deliver a power plant within 24 months of signing.

“Scaling small modular nuclear power isn’t 10 years away. The technology is proven and ready, now,” said Bret Kugelmass, chief executive of Last Energy.

The US company told NucNet in an email that it is currently building a mechanical demonstration plant in Houston, Texas, which is expected to show the core elements of manufacturability, modular construction techniques, and light water primary loop design.

Completion of a “non-powered” prototype is earmarked for September 2022 while Last Energy is pursuing international licensing in parallel with construction of a first set of reference facilities.

Last Energy said its plan is to have fully functional power plants within 3 months of receiving all government and community approvals.

The company is in talks with governments, regulators and commercial energy partners across Europe, Latin America and Asia. In March 2022, Romania announced its intention to work with Last Energy to develop an SMR at the central Mioveni site, Last Energy said.

Last Energy has not received any government funding and is pursuing purely private financing “to best align incentives of cost efficiency and speed to deployment,” a spokesperson told NucNet.

The company has hired industry partners like Wood and Atkins to support the development of its project and has received technical validation of its proposed plant design by US national labs and several large nuclear utilities both in the US and across Europe, the spokesperson said.

Last Energy was set up in 2021 as a spin-off from the US-based Energy Impact Centre (EIC) energy transition think tank, which was founded in 2017.

In 2020, the EIC started the Open100 open-source research platform which was intended to serve as a foundation for new power plant construction concept, offering developers a web interface to visualise plant and component design, costs studies, and construction plans. Last Energy, however, said their proposed 20-MW SMR plant is being developed independently from the Open100 platform, which had a purely academic bearing.

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