April 28, 2024 at 9:48 am

AI Data Centers May Require Their Own Personal Nuclear Reactors To Meet Energy Needs

by Trisha Leigh

Source: Shutterstock

It’s fair to say there are a lot of concerns when it comes to people wanting to see AI more integrated into our daily lives.

Although their massive energy consumption isn’t the flashiest issue, it just might be the one that slows down the breakneck pace with which it has been advancing.

It’s no secret that AI data centers require a massive amount of energy. So much, in fact, that some experts say the only answer is for them to have their own nuclear reactors on site.

Small modular reactors, which are scaled-down power plants, have been in development with the aim of reducing companies’ dependence on the grid.

Source: Shutterstock

There are not any commercial ones in operation just yet, though.

That said, big names in AI, like Microsoft and Google, have invested in the idea.

Sam Altman, OpenAI CEO, has said in an interview that AI requires so much power that it will require a brand new energy source in order to keep up.

Michael Bluck, the director of the Centre for Nuclear Engineering at Imperial College London, seems to agree.

“Data centres are power hungry things, but with AI we’re moving into a new level of power requirements. There are about 50 SMR designs out there. The challenge is to build them in repeatable units, factory style, standardizing production lines.”

Regulation remains a big hurdle to overcome. The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission has been “engaged in varying degrees of pre-application activities with several SMR designers over the past several years.”

Source: NuScale/Wikipedia

The commission approved the first SMR design in 2020, but it remains unclear whether or not they will end up being the answer we’re looking for as far as energy needs.

People developing and backing AI need answers now, and they may not want to wait for the technology to be scaled up and approved.

Even though they probably should.

If you enjoyed that story, check out what happened when a guy gave ChatGPT $100 to make as money as possible, and it turned out exactly how you would expect.