U.S. Army Seeks Microreactor Nuclear Power Plant Solutions for Military Bases

June 20, 2024
The Army intends to deploy the prototype microreactor nuclear power plant at an installation in the continental U.S. by 2030. If successful, the technology could be used at bases around the globe.

The U.S. Army is looking to leverage the recent advancements in nuclear technology to shore up the energy resilience of its bases. As such, the Department of Defense’s (DOD) Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) and the U.S. Army are now accepting proposals to prototype on-site microreactor nuclear power plants at military installations.

The Army, through the Advanced Nuclear Power for Installations program, aims to deploy the technology to ensure its bases have the energy resilience needed to maintain operational readiness at all times.

“Modular advanced nuclear power is a joint and global need. DIU energy’s effort will help bolster and protect critical energy infrastructure by providing a supply of carbon-free energy for emerging, future mission and facility needs within the DOD, allowing for installation energy resilience,” said Andrew Higier, energy portfolio director at the DIU.

In March, the Senate Intelligence Committee sent a letter to Christine Wormuth, secretary of the Army, urging the exploration of advanced nuclear power technologies as a source of safe, secure, clean and reliable power on military bases.

The letter stated, in part, “It is critical that the United States lead in the development and deployment of advanced nuclear reactors to secure our own critical infrastructure with resilient, continuous power, especially for DOD mission-critical operations in remote and austere environments.”

Not only could the technology ensure military mission continuity, it could also help the Army achieve its goal of 99.9% reliable energy by 2030.

Prototype capabilities outlined

The Army intends to deploy the prototype microreactor nuclear power plant at an installation in the continental U.S. by 2030. If successful, the technology could be used at bases around the globe.

According to the solicitation notice, submitted briefs must address “all stages of a microreactor’s life cycle, including design, construction, operation, deconstruction and returning the site to an unrestricted release status.” 

Proposed solutions must be capable of local control and dispatch and must meet 100% of all critical loads, which are anticipated to be between 3 MW and 10 MW.

The Army is also looking for the solutions to integrate with existing infrastructure and operations systems at the military installation.

Full details of the desired capabilities and features can be found in the solicitation notice.

Army investing in multiple energy resilience technologies

The Army is largely reliant on off-site providers to deliver the electricity its installations need to support critical missions around the world. Recognizing that this dependence on outside sources could put operations at risk during severe weather, cyberattacks or other outage-inducing events, the Army is investing in multiple types of on-site energy resilience technologies to ensure mission readiness.

Among those solutions are a growing number of microgrids. In 2022, the Army announced it would build microgrids at each of its 130 bases worldwide by 2035.

At U.S. Army Garrison-Fort Cavazos in Texas, for example, the Army has installed a microgrid to power critical services and infrastructure during outages and to reduce energy costs during ERCOT peak demand periods.

Fort Campbell in Kentucky, broke ground last year on a natural gas powered microgrid that will allow the base to maintain 100% mission capability for up to two weeks in the event of a grid failure. 

About the Author

Kathy Hitchens | Special Projects Editor

I work as a writer and special projects editor for Microgrid Knowledge. I have over 30 years of writing experience, working with a variety of companies in the renewable energy, electric vehicle and utility sector, as well as those in the entertainment, education, and financial industries. I have a BFA in Media Arts from the University of Arizona and a MBA from the University of Denver.

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