Nuclear noted as an answer to electricity demands from data centers

March 12, 2024, 9:30AMANS Nuclear Cafe

The spread of “electricity-hungry data centers and clean-technology factories” throughout the United States is “leaving utilities and regulators grasping for credible plans to expand the nation’s creaking power grid,” according to a recent article in the Washington Post. According to the report, the surge in industrial power requirements due to such factors as innovation in artificial intelligence (AI) and the corresponding construction of large computing infrastructure, is prompting some officials to “look beyond the grid” to ease the “grid bottleneck” and meet electricity demands.

In related news from last week, Amazon bought a nuclear-powered data center from Talen Energy. The center is located next to Susquehanna nuclear power plant, in Salem Township, Penn., which supplies electric power to meet the center’s demands.

One off-the-grid solution put forth by the article is the industrial use of on-site small modular reactors. The power possibilities from future fusion energy are also noted.

Nuclear answers: The industrial use of next-generation nuclear power is noted in relation to the efforts of Microsoft and Google, which “are among the firms hoping that energy-intensive industrial operations can ultimately be powered by small nuclear plants on-site.” In fact, Microsoft has plans to eventually purchase nuclear fusion energy from Helion Energy.

The article opines that “going off the grid brings its own big regulatory and land acquisition challenges. The type of nuclear plants envisioned, for example, are not yet even operational in the United States. Fusion power does not yet exist.”

Michael Ortiz, chief executive officer of Layer 9 Data Centers, told the Washington Post, “Data centers are going to have to become more efficient, and we need to be using more clean sources of efficient energy, like nuclear.”

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