This week saw two key milestones for nuclear power, signaling advancement in an industry viewed as critical to securing reliable and carbon-free baseload power for the future. On Monday, March 6, Georgia Power announced that the Vogtle Unit 3 pressurized water reactor achieved initial criticality, meaning nuclear fission was self-sustaining and able to generate the heat necessary to deliver electricity to the grid. The unit is slated to come online in the coming months and is approved to operate under a 40-year Nuclear Regulatory Commission Combined Operating License.
On Tuesday, March 7, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced that the Nine Mile Point Nuclear Station in Oswego, New York, initiated hydrogen production from the nuclear power plant. This first-of-its-kind demonstration project funded by the DOE and the plant’s operator, Constellation, will supply hydrogen for the plant’s use through installation of a low-temperature electrolysis system in place of hydrogen made from fossil fuels and shipped in from off-site. The demonstration project, one of four supported by DOE, comes as DOE is investing billions to develop and infrastructure for clean hydrogen production through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act.