BALTIMORE –Energy generation and use in the U.S. is undergoing a rapid transformation in response to concerns about climate change. Carbon-free energy sources, such as wind, solar, and nuclear power, are being pursued to reduce carbon emissions and improve the resiliency of power generation under extreme weather events caused by a warming planet. In September 2022, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory has launched a long-term agreement with Constellation to evaluate trends in the country’s energy system and develop technologies for more efficient, carbon-free power generation.
As the largest producer of carbon-free energy in the U.S., Constellation’s generation fleet powers approximately 20 million homes. Its retail business serves two million residential, public sector and business customers, including three fourths of the Fortune 100. The Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (Agreement) between Constellation and Argonne will support various projects through October 2028.
One such project will focus on the use of hydrogen from nuclear power to store and transmit energy in back-up power, transportation and a variety of other applications. Researchers at Argonne are already working with Constellation to assess market demand for hydrogen as well as the environmental and economic impacts of hydrogen production, storage and delivery.
“Clean hydrogen produced from carbon-free nuclear has the power to transform difficult-to-decarbonize industries. By combining Constellation’s nation-leading carbon-free energy resources with electrolysis technologies and Argonne National Laboratory’s technical expertise, we have an opportunity to deliver real world solutions to combat the increasing threats of climate change,” said Colleen Wright, Vice President of Corporate Strategy for Constellation.
By providing a legal framework and laying out intellectual property agreements, the Agreement allows Argonne and Constellation to quickly launch projects and pivot to address emerging challenges and opportunities in the nation’s rapidly changing energy system. In addition, the six-year timespan enables the parties to grow and expand their work to build on successes from previous projects, paving the way for Constellation to become a leader in emerging power technologies.
“The Agreement can help align our research and development at the laboratory, because it gives us much better insight into what industry actually needs. The industry benefits because they get the power of Argonne National Laboratory’s capabilities and expertise to address specific technical issues that they may have,” says Mark Petri, Grid Security and Resilience Lead at Argonne.
But perhaps the biggest impact of this Agreement is the pipeline it establishes for developing and applying innovative technologies that can help decarbonize the United States’ energy system. As Petri describes, “We can immediately move our projects into field studies, pilots, and adoption. We want to make a difference and help the nation solve problems associated with climate change, but we can’t do that without industry. Constellation is an ideal industry partner, given their commitment to clean, reliable power generation and their willingness to be pioneers for new energy technologies.”