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US Government Wants Nuclear Plants to Offload AI Data Center Expansion

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AleksandarK

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The expansion of AI technology affects not only the production and demand for graphics cards but also the electricity grid that powers them. Data centers hosting thousands of GPUs are becoming more common, and the industry has been building new facilities for GPU-enhanced servers to serve the need for more AI. However, these powerful GPUs often consume over 500 Watts per single card, and NVIDIA's latest Blackwell B200 GPU has a TGP of 1000 Watts or a single kilowatt. These kilowatt GPUs will be present in data centers with 10s of thousands of cards, resulting in multi-megawatt facilities. To combat the load on the national electricity grid, US President Joe Biden's administration has been discussing with big tech to re-evaluate their power sources, possibly using smaller nuclear plants. According to an Axios interview with Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, she has noted that "AI itself isn't a problem because AI could help to solve the problem." However, the problem is the load-bearing of the national electricity grid, which can't sustain the rapid expansion of the AI data centers.

The Department of Energy (DOE) has been reportedly talking with firms, most notably hyperscalers like Microsoft, Google, and Amazon, to start considering nuclear fusion and fission power plants to satisfy the need for AI expansion. We have already discussed the plan by Microsoft to embed a nuclear reactor near its data center facility and help manage the load of thousands of GPUs running AI training/inference. However, this time, it is not just Microsoft. Other tech giants are reportedly thinking about nuclear as well. They all need to offload their AI expansion from the US national power grid and develop a nuclear solution. Nuclear power is a mere 20% of the US power sourcing, and DOE is currently financing a Holtec Palisades 800-MW electric nuclear generating station with $1.52 billion in funds for restoration and resumption of service. Microsoft is investing in a Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) microreactor energy strategy, which could be an example for other big tech companies to follow.



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This needed to be an April Fools joke with regards to nuclear AI projects.

But I'm actually a big fan of nuclear energy, so this is good news on my end. Even if this whole AI thing turns out to be empty hype, we need the energy capacity anyway.
 
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Don't expect it soon then? Takes decades to build fusion plants. Hinkley Point C over here started in 2018 and operational by 2027... probably

They start to realise the ridiculousness of predictions for AI takeover given the practical constraints of building data centers and power stations. Don't tell stock holders?

Notwithstanding the killer apps that either generate or cut costs by hundreds of billions needed to justify all the costs.
 
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Eh, Instead of investing trillions in wasteful expenditures annually, redirecting just a fraction of those funds towards establishing solar panel and wind turbine installations across vast desert regions could be a transformative step. While there's much discourse about transitioning away from reliance on oil, they don't seem to be making an effort.

Yes, oil's pump-loving friends wouldn't like to see their main commodity lose value any faster.
 
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Don't expect it soon then? Takes decades to build fusion plants. Hinkley Point C over here started in 2018 and operational by 2027... probably

They start to realise the ridiculousness of predictions for AI takeover given the practical constraints of building data centers and power stations. Don't tell stock holders?

Notwithstanding the killer apps that either generate or cut costs by hundreds of billions needed to justify all the costs.
Fusion is only mentioned as a distant possibility. They're primarily talking about fission, and they want tech companies to build and operate on-site small modular reactors rather than relying entirely on the grid, though the government still needs to take steps to reduce the amount of bureaucratic red tape the tech companies would have to navigate to make this plan feasible.

Personally, I think it's a bit of a farce that it's come to this, especially after the US has turned its back on nuclear. Maybe that wasn't such a good idea after all, huh?
 
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What the US has to do is to invest in maintaining its decrepit transport infrastructure. Why would any of these companies go for one of the most expensive power sources out there?
 
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This needed to be an April Fools joke with regards to nuclear AI projects.

But I'm actually a big fan of nuclear energy, so this is good news on my end. Even if this whole AI thing turns out to be empty hype, we need the energy capacity anyway.
If it lowers cost, you can put a nuke plant in my backyard.
 
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This would make too much sense for our government. Must be an April Fool's joke.
 
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What the US has to do is to invest in maintaining its decrepit transport infrastructure. Why would any of these companies go for one of the most expensive power sources out there?
Expensive to build but not in the long term if you maintain it.

We are already investing in transport. That got killed with Ronnie back in the 80s but Biden is picking it back up.

The issue is getting out of the private model and going with a national model. But that hurts stock prices so there is always screaming.
 
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Eh, Instead of investing trillions in wasteful expenditures annually, redirecting just a fraction of those funds towards establishing solar panel and wind turbine installations across vast desert regions could be a transformative step. While there's much discourse about transitioning away from reliance on oil, they don't seem to be making an effort.

Yes, oil's pump-loving friends wouldn't like to see their main commodity lose value any faster.
As clean that solar and wind power may be, they're not regular. Say whay you want about nuclear, but there's no generation more reliable and stable.

One question though, out of my lack of knowledge (as you mentioned vast desert regions): how well integrated is the transmission power grid in the US?
 
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Expensive to build but not in the long term if you maintain it.
Build cost and maintenance are factored in the price. Just for the laughs you should check the price strike that Hinkley Point-C got to prove how inane fission is.

We are already investing in transport. That got killed with Ronnie back in the 80s but Biden is picking it back up.
Doubtful but I hope you are right.

The issue is getting out of the private model and going with a national model. But that hurts stock prices so there is always screaming.
So it's an issue that won't be solved.
 
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As clean that solar and wind power may be, they're not regular. Say whay you want about nuclear, but there's no generation more reliable and stable.

One question though, out of my lack of knowledge (as you mentioned vast desert regions): how well integrated is the transmission power grid in the US?
Hi,
Every state is different but most are dated.
 
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As clean that solar and wind power may be, they're not regular. Say whay you want about nuclear, but there's no generation more reliable and stable.

One question though, out of my lack of knowledge (as you mentioned vast desert regions): how well integrated is the transmission power grid in the US?
Agreed.
Wind and solar themselves aren't reliable enough for steady power generation because both are at the mercy of weather to how much they can produce at any given time.
While they can be used as a supplement, it's just not feasable to base what's needed on them for overall power generation.
 
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Great for the plant, petty it's for this crap, there are a lot more important tasks that need a lot of power.
 
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If this results in more nuclear power great. Esp. SMR tech; less volatile and far less costly to maintain than legacy nuclear power plants, and more easily scalable too. SMRs desperately need a boost, and even if it's first by AI megacenters, having SMRs scale up in production would allow for more deployment to volatile, brownout-prone areas. Heck, even within cities in the case of the really small ones, providing localized power to several blocks or an entire skyscraper.

As a side bonus, many SMR designs are designed to use fuel that can be recycled, slowing the need for uranium mining and allowing for a much more robust economy where they aren't just stuck in storage, and more like France's nuclear program where they aggressively recycle their nuclear fuels to prolong reserves and reduce waste.
 
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As clean that solar and wind power may be, they're not regular. Say whay you want about nuclear, but there's no generation more reliable and stable.

One question though, out of my lack of knowledge (as you mentioned vast desert regions): how well integrated is the transmission power grid in the US?

That's where batteries like these come in—priced at 1/10 of lithium batteries, they could potentially use 50% of a desert like Mojave, providing dozens of gigawatts of power available for the night. it could be capable of supplying even large cities with power for days.

Best of all, iron-air batteries are practically infinite. You simply melt down the rusty metal, and magically, you have a new battery.

Transmission power grid in the US is relatively well-integrated, but there are challenges. The grid consists of three main interconnections: the Eastern Interconnection, Western Interconnection, and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT). These interconnections enable the transfer of electricity over long distances and help ensure reliability.

Btw, the grid faces challenges due to its age and the increasing demand for electricity. Aging infrastructure, including transmission lines and substations, can lead to reliability issues and power outages.
 
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Is the US DOE really recommending nuclear fusion power plants? I thought the smart people at the DOE would know we dont have not harnessed nuclear fusion (despite trying for the last 75 years).

If we had fusion reactors, energy would be practically infinite.
 
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Nuclear power should be more like 80% of the grid supply
 
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Eh, Instead of investing trillions in wasteful expenditures annually, redirecting just a fraction of those funds towards establishing solar panel and wind turbine installations across vast desert regions could be a transformative step. While there's much discourse about transitioning away from reliance on oil, they don't seem to be making an effort.
While solar or wind farms in the middle of no where makes a lot of sense, but the infrastructure requirements for energy transmission would be astronomical. You have to get the energy where it needs to go. Also, and I may be wrong about this, but transmission and distributions (T&D) losses may be very impactful over those long distances from the middle of nowhere to civilization.
 
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Eh, Instead of investing trillions in wasteful expenditures annually, redirecting just a fraction of those funds towards establishing solar panel and wind turbine installations across vast desert regions could be a transformative step. While there's much discourse about transitioning away from reliance on oil, they don't seem to be making an effort.

Yes, oil's pump-loving friends wouldn't like to see their main commodity lose value any faster.

That's where batteries like these come in—priced at 1/10 of lithium batteries, they could potentially use 50% of a desert like Mojave, providing dozens of gigawatts of power available for the night. it could be capable of supplying even large cities with power for days.

Best of all, iron-air batteries are practically infinite. You simply melt down the rusty metal, and magically, you have a new battery.

There's two problems: you are concentrating energy production in a few capable sites and the companies involved on those markets are kind of morons: the 3 big wind turbine developers (ge, siemens and vestas) almost bankrupted themselves running margins into the ground while there's a boom in demand for their products. I don't know what's going on with Solar but given how underutilized it has been problably something similar. And this is before mentioning a myriad of other problems, lack of investment in storage technology to mitigate cyclical production, etc. Kind of a shitshow.

The iron-air battery sounds great but it's still very far from being a viable comercial solution unfortunately.

Nuclear has a lot of problems too, the biggest one right now is how we gradually stopped using them out of FUD and stupidity and it will take time to scale the know how to build and operate them again, but it's one of the cleanest and cheapest ways to meet our baseload demand that will only increase as technology advances and as we scale up active carbon capture which is our only hope of reverting the effects of almost a century of emissions.

While solar or wind farms in the middle of no where makes a lot of sense, but the infrastructure requirements for energy transmission would be astronomical. You have to get the energy where it needs to go. Also, and I may be wrong about this, but transmission and distributions (T&D) losses may be very impactful over those long distances from the middle of nowhere to civilization.

It's not that big of a problem with high voltage but it is another problem to be solved, or rather another huge infrastructure project. Nuclear can rely on cheap AC transformers, as does wind, but solar and storage need huge inverters built.
 
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What a waste of nuclear power. Force them to use renewable only since it's not needed to sustain the species or planet. From.the building, transport, infrastructure, and energy demans they should be the ones using renewable energy, not the people who need electricity to cook, clean, for water, heat, light, transportation.
 
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What a waste of nuclear power. Force them to use renewable only since it's not needed to sustain the species or planet. From.the building, transport, infrastructure, and energy demans they should be the ones using renewable energy, not the people who need electricity to cook, clean, for water, heat, light, transportation.
Hi,
Not to mention impractical as hell
They could throw windmills and solar panels up the next day but a reactor of any type would take decades :laugh:
 
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