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Nuclear Power Plants Fueling AI Data Centers

The U.S. government is engaging in discussions with technology companies regarding the electricity requirements of artificial intelligence technologies.

This conversation is driven by the recognition that the expansion of AI not only impacts the production and demand for graphics cards but also places significant demands on the power grids that sustain them. Data centers, housing tens of thousands of GPUs, are increasingly becoming the norm, with expectations for their growth to continue unchecked.

In light of this, the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden is keen to address the electrical consumption associated with artificial intelligence.

U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm has reportedly already commenced some of these discussions. As a solution to meet the surging energy demands safely, nuclear power is emerging as a key option.

Nuclear power can be used to fuel artificial intelligence

As artificial intelligence (AI) systems become faster, the demand for more powerful and quicker GPUs escalates. Despite claims of increased energy efficiency with each new generation, power consumption is on the rise. Nvidia’s H100 GPU, for example, uses around 700W of power, while the newly released Blackwell B200 consumes 1000W. These kilowatt-class GPUs are set to populate data centers containing tens of thousands of cards, leading to the proliferation of multi-megawatt data centers.

In response, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has reportedly started exploring the use of nuclear fusion and fission power plants to support the burgeoning needs of artificial intelligence. This includes consultations with major technology companies like Microsoft, Google, and Amazon. Among the strategies under consideration are SMR (Small Modular Reactor) power plants, known for their compact, efficient nuclear reactors.

The pivot towards nuclear energy appears to have gained traction with both the United States and the technology sector. Recently, the U.S. decided to reactivate a previously shut-down nuclear power plant. Amazon has moved to acquire a data center powered entirely by nuclear energy. Last year, Microsoft announced a deal with Helion Energy to purchase energy from its nuclear fusion reactor, signaling a significant shift towards nuclear solutions to meet the energy demands of AI expansion.

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