The US Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy (EERE) and the Office of Nuclear Energy (NE) are teaming up with utilities to support four hydrogen demonstration projects at nuclear power plants.
High-temperature electrolyzers for hydrogen production use both heat and electricity to split water and are more efficient than low-temperature electrolyzers. Traditional and advanced nuclear reactors are well-suited to provide the constant heat and electricity needed to produce clean hydrogen.
DOE estimates that a single 1,000-megawatt reactor could produce up to 150,000 tons of hydrogen each year. This could be sold regionally as a commodity for fertilizers, oil refining, steel production, material handling equipment, fuel cell vehicles, or even carbon-neutral synthetic fuels.
The four projects include:
Nine Mile Point Nuclear Power Station (Oswego, NY). DOE is supporting the construction and installation of a low-temperature electrolysis system at the Nine Mile Point nuclear power plant. The project will be the first nuclear-powered clean hydrogen production facility in the US and will use the hydrogen to help cool the plant. Constellation plans to begin producing hydrogen before the end of the year.
Davis–Besse Nuclear Power Station (Oak Harbor, OH). Energy Harbor is working to demonstrate a low-temperature electrolysis system at the Davis–Besse Nuclear Power Station. The goal of the project is to prove the technical feasibility and economic benefits of clean hydrogen production, which could facilitate future opportunities for large-scale commercialization. The single unit reactor is expected to produce clean hydrogen by 2023.
Potential uses could be sold for local manufacturing and transportation services, including fuel for a local bus fleet.
Prairie Island Nuclear Generating Plant (Red Wing, MN). Bloom Energy and Xcel Energy are working on a first-of-a-kind project to demonstrate high-temperature electrolysis at the Prairie Island Nuclear Generating Plant. The data collected from this demonstration will be used to scale up this process. Hydrogen production is expected to begin in early 2024.
Palo Verde Generating Station (Tonopah, AZ). DOE is negotiating an award with Arizona Public Service (APS) and PNW Hydrogen to demonstrate another low-temperature electrolysis system at the Palo Verde Generating Station. The hydrogen will be used to produce electricity during times of high demand or to make chemicals and other fuels. The project could start producing hydrogen in 2024, pending the completion of award negotiations.
DOE is continuing to support the development and maturation of clean hydrogen production, including funding for six to ten regional clean hydrogen hubs across the United States through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. At least one of the hubs will be focused on clean hydrogen production using nuclear energy.