Eielson Air Force Base (AFB) is the Department of Air Force’s (DAF) preferred location to pilot its first micro-reactor. The next-generation energy technology has the potential to provide the installation with a clean, reliable, and resilient energy supply for critical national security infrastructure.
Micro-reactors are small nuclear reactors that can produce clean energy and are equipped with built-in safety features that self-adjust to changing conditions and demands to prevent overheating. The technology’s ability to operate independently from the commercial grid and reduce greenhouse gas emissions make micro-reactors a promising power source for remote domestic military installations critical to the national security infrastructure.
The Department of the Air Force Micro-Reactor pilot was initiated in response to the Fiscal Year 2019 National Defense Authorization Act requirement to identify potential locations to site, construct, and operate a micro-reactor by the end of 2027. The DAF is partnering with Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) Energy Office to execute a power purchase agreement (PPA) with a third-party developer. The developer will own and operate the micro-reactor licensed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to deliver electricity and steam to the proposed location of Eielson AFB in exchange for DAF’s long-term purchase of energy it generates. DAF plans to execute a land lease with the third-party developer, or vendor, once the NRC license is obtained.
As the first pilot program of its kind, the micro-reactor pilot program must undergo significant scrutiny and coordination from the agencies involved in its success. In September 2022, the Department of the Air Force, in partnership with the DLA Energy, released a request for proposal (RFP) for the project. The power purchase agreement RFP closed on January 31, 2023.
DAF plans to select a vendor and release the Notice of Intent to Award (NOITA) in 2023. Permitting and licensing activities, including the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) assessment are expected to begin by 2024. Micro-reactor demonstration and operational testing is targeted to begin in 2027. *
*The proposed timeline is tentative and subject to change