Last still needs regulator approval in UK, Poland for reactors
Company is building its first 20-megawatt reactor in Texas
Last Energy Inc., a startup developing advanced, smaller nuclear power plants, completed four deals worth $18.9 billion to build 34 reactors in Europe.
The Washington-based company expects to install the first of its 20-megawatt systems as soon as 2025, Chief Executive Officer Bret Kugelmass said in an interview Monday. Last is building its first system in Texas, but is still seeking approval from regulators in Poland and the UK, where it closed the Europe deals.
Last is part of a wave of companies seeking to install smaller reactors that could be manufactured in factories and assembled on-site. The approach is expected to make them faster and cheaper to build than conventional nuclear plants, but the technology is still untested. Kugelmass said the agreements validate the strategy and show growing demand for nuclear energy.
“It’s huge for us, and it’s a milestone for the whole industry,” he said.
Last plans to build and operate the plants, and the $18.9 billion value of the deals represents the revenue it anticipates over the course of power-purchase agreements that stretch as long as 24 years. The company must arrange financing for the estimated $100 million it will need for each system. The customers include a data-center operator and a hydrogen producer in the UK and an industrial zone in Poland. It announced last year agreements to build 12 systems for two additional customers in Poland.
While the lack of regulatory approval is a key barrier, Last Energy’s small design means that engineering and safety issues will be simpler than with larger reactors, said Jessica Lovering, executive director of Good Energy Collective, a pro-nuclear research group.
“For such a small facility, the licensing should be a lot easier,” she said.