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Constellation sparks nuclear-powered hydrogen production

Illustration of hydrogen molecules surrounded by dollar elements and abstract shapes

Illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios

Constellation has started production at its 1 MW nuclear-powered hydrogen production plant.

Why it matters: The project shows how nuclear plants can potentially open new revenue streams by expanding into hydrogen production. Generous incentives in the Inflation Reduction Act also help.

Driving the news: Constellation has started making hydrogen at the 1 MW demonstration-scale facility at the company's Nine Mile Point Nuclear Plant in Oswego, New York.

Zoom in: The Department of Energy funded 50% of the $11.6 million facility, a Constellation spokesperson tells Axios. The project is one of four such nuclear-powered hydrogen projects that the agency is backing.

  • The DOE estimates that a single 1,000 MW nuclear reactor could produce 150,000 tons of hydrogen per year.
  • To put that in context, a planned Texas project being touted as the country's largest green-hydrogen facility would produce roughly half as much.

State of play: About 95% of U.S. hydrogen is produced by natural gas.

  • Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Massachusetts and Cooper Nuclear Station in Nebraska had previously implemented hydrogen production.
  • Constellation's demonstration plant is the only one that's currently operating, the company says.

What's next: Constellation last month announced plans to build a $900 million hydrogen facility in the Midwest, which would combine nuclear and green-hydrogen tax credits in the Inflation Reduction Act.

  • The company is also planning to locate hydrogen fuel cells at Nine Mile Point for long-duration energy storage.
  • It received $12.5 million for the project last fall from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.

Of note: Exelon spun off Constellation in February 2022.

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