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Amazon to add 15 new datacenters to nuclear powered campus

WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF

Datacenters are now using up so much power governments are worried about their grids and tech companies are buying mini nuclear power stations to power them…

 

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As we continue to see a huge surge in the number of datacenters being built to help fuel the Artificial Intelligence (AI) surge, and as those datacenters get increasingly bigger such as Microsoft’s $100 Billion Stargate project hyperscalers are now turning to nuclear power to power them. And now Amazon’s nuclear-powered cloud campus in Pennsylvania, USA, will reportedly be home to more than a dozen new datacenters over the next decade.

 

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According to Luzerne County newspaper The Citizens’ Voice, the web colossus cleared a major hurdle after township supervisors voted unanimously to rezone roughly 1,600 acres next to the Susquehanna nuclear power plant to make way for Amazon’s datacenter build out.

The project, for which Amazon has also obtained a ten-year, 70 percent Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance break, will apparently create 600 jobs paying about $80,000 a year each.

Amazon first revealed its intention to build a datacenter campus alongside the 2.5 GW Susquehanna nuclear power station back in March as part of a $650 million agreement to buy Cumulus Data’s datacenter from Talen Energy, which operates the atomic plant.

 

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Under the terms of the sale, Amazon not only acquired Cumulus’ datacenter facilities and associated power infrastructure, but has direct — behind the meter — access to a sizable chunk of the energy generated by the nuclear plant’s two reactors.

Over the course of its contract with Talen, Amazon expects to unlock upwards of 960 MW of power supply. However, we’ll note that the cloud titan has the option to cap this at 480 MW if it doesn’t actually need all of it.

We’ve now learned at least 15 new datacenters will be built adjacent and connected to the fission plant over the next ten years. As I’ve previously said, an AWS campus with five buildings may take up 600,000 square feet, or around 13 acres, and capacity of between 50 and 60 megawatts. This suggests there’s either ample space and capacity for additional facilities by Susquehanna, or that at least some of the datacenters will be home to the power-hungry GPUs and accelerators used to train and run generative AI workloads.

 

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As generative AI has taken off, it’s not uncommon to see clusters of 20,000 or more GPUs capable of consuming in excess of 25 megawatts of power, deployed. And with this particular hyperscaler’s lofty sustainability goals in mind, a nuclear plant wouldn’t be the worst place to put those GPUs.

Like most cloud providers and hyperscalers, Amazon believes AI will be essential to unlocking new profits, with CEO Andy Jassy calling it the most transformative technology since the cloud, if not the internet, in a recent letter to shareholders.

But while Jassy may be jazzed about AI’s potential, many living in Salem Township aren’t exactly thrilled by the idea of Amazon putting up datacenters by their backyards. Several residents have reportedly raised concerns about how the datacenters may impact property values, while others complained of low-ball offers from Amazon to purchase their properties.

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