Constellation has announced an investment of $800m in new equipment at its 2.4GW Braidwood and 2.3GW Byron nuclear power plants in Illinois to increase their combined output by nearly 135MW.

The US-based carbon-free energy producer said that the additional capacity will be sufficient to meet the power requirements of 100,000 average homes.

Upgrades at the Braidwood and Byron nuclear power plants include the replacement of the main turbines with high efficiency units.

The increased output at the two power generating stations is expected to be achieved as early as 2026.

Constellation aims to make the full uprated output of the Braidwood and Byron facilities available by 2029.

The work on the uprates will be carried out in phases during scheduled refuelling outages, stated the company.

Constellation president and CEO Joe Dominguez said: “These investments in our world class nuclear fleet will allow us to generate more zero-carbon energy with the same amount of fuel and land, and that’s a win for the economy, the environment and Illinois families and businesses who rely on our clean energy.

“These projects will help create family-sustaining jobs and are a direct result of state and federal policies that recognize the incredible value of nuclear energy in addressing the climate crisis while keeping our grid secure and reliable.”

The Braidwood and Byron upgrades are anticipated to generate thousands of jobs during construction.

Constellation, citing the Environmental Protection Agency data, said that the additional clean energy to be produced from the nuclear power plants is equivalent to eliminating 171,000 gas-powered vehicles from the road each year or adding 216 intermittent wind turbines to the grid.

The Braidwood nuclear power plant has been operating since 1988 and is licensed to operate till 2046-2047.

The Byron nuclear power plant, on the other hand, saw its first unit commissioned in 1985, while the second unit began operations in 1987. Unit 1 of the nuclear power project is licensed to operate till 2044, while Unit 2 can operate till 2046.

In November 2022, Constellation announced plans to extend the operating licenses for the Clinton and Dresden nuclear power plants in Illinois by an additional 20 years.