A nuclear-powered hydrogen production facility has commenced operation at Constellation Energy’s Nine Mile Point plant, the company announced this week. The facility is the first of its kind in the United States to generate hydrogen using nuclear power, courtesy of the New York plant’s two boiling water reactors, the 620-MWe Unit 1 and 1,287-MWe Unit 2.
The milestone is part of a $14.5 million cost-shared project between Constellation and the Department of Energy—with $5.8 million coming from the DOE—aimed at demonstrating how nuclear plants can help lower the cost and scale up clean hydrogen production. (Other nuclear plant owners working with the DOE on hydrogen production projects include Energy Harbor, at Davis-Besse; Xcel Energy, at Prairie Island; and Arizona Public Service, at Palo Verde.)
Using 1.25 MW of zero-carbon energy per hour, the Nine Mile Point hydrogen generation system’s proton exchange membrane electrolyzer, manufactured by Nel Hydrogen, produces 560 kg of clean hydrogen per day, more than enough to meet the plant’s operation hydrogen use, Constellation said, also noting that the system helps set the stage for potential large-scale deployments at other clean energy centers in the company’s fleet that would couple clean hydrogen production with storage and other on-site uses.
In addition, according to the announcement, Constellation is working with public and private entities to pursue development of regional hydrogen production and distribution hubs and has committed to investing $900 million through 2025 for commercial hydrogen production using nuclear power. This includes participation in the Midwest Alliance for Clean Hydrogen, Northeast Clean Hydrogen Hub, and Mid-Atlantic Hydrogen Hub, all of which are exploring projects to develop hydrogen infrastructure in collaboration with the DOE, the company said.
High on hydrogen: “Hydrogen will be an indispensable tool in solving the climate crisis, and Nine Mile Point is going to show the world that nuclear power is the most efficient and cost-effective way to make it from a carbon-free resource,” declared Joe Dominguez, Constellation’s president and chief executive officer. “In partnership with DOE and others, we see this technology creating a pathway to decarbonizing industries that remain heavily reliant on fossil fuels, while creating clean energy jobs and strengthening domestic energy security.”
Kathryn Huff, head of the DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy, said, “This accomplishment tangibly demonstrates that our nation’s existing reactor fleet can produce clean hydrogen today. DOE is proud to support cost-shared projects like this to deliver affordable clean hydrogen. The investments we’re starting to make now through the bipartisan infrastructure law and Inflation Reduction Act will even further expand the hydrogen market to create new economic and environmental benefits for nuclear energy.”