back to article Amazon to add 15 datacenters to atomic-powered campus

Amazon's nuclear-powered cloud campus in Pennsylvania, USA, will reportedly be home to more than a dozen new datacenters over the next decade. 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 — or about …

  1. jerkyflexoff

    Carbron FootzprIntz

    But what about the penguins.....

    Can find the energy in the race to power

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Carbron FootzprIntz

      Effectively Unlimited Power to AI will turn Susquehanna into Ground Zero for Skynet.

  2. Zibob Bronze badge

    Really?

    "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."

    Excuse my naïveté but I have never seen a data center cap its usage when there is extra to be had. 9n when there was a shortage.

  3. Jellied Eel Silver badge

    Bell ends?

    So this got me curious. I can see the attraction for Talen getting a lump of cash for the datacentre it built, plus a PPA (Power Purchase Agreement) for up to half it's nuclear plants existing output. So I bimbled over to Wiki-

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Susquehanna_Steam_Electric_Station

    Unit 1: June 8, 1983

    Unit 2: February 12, 1985

    In November 2009, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) extended the operation licenses of the reactors for an additional 20 years.

    So the existing BWRs are kinda getting on a bit, and the licenses expire in 2029. I'm sure Amazon has a 5yr plan for what happens then. The article mentions Talen had a plan to build a new NPP nearby, but withdrew the application. So kind of assuming that will get resubmitted or Amazon's ILO datacentres will be lights out because they're out of power. But given the timescales to build a new NPP, that would seem to need to start now.

    But also curious about the social cost of deals like this. So this effectively takes up to half of the NPP's output out of the market at a time when policies are increasing demand for electricity. So good'ol decarbonisation and electrification of transport, heating etc. Then again, this could be a good thing for Talen because any energy it produces outside the PPA committment with Amazon could be sold at a higher price given the higher demands.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bell ends?

      I doubt Amazon care if the reactor licence doesn't get extended. The hurdle here is getting approval to build the data centres. Once the DCs are built, a few short years down the line and they'll be an important business in the region and if there's a power shortage, the relevant energy regulators will have to settle a rate case with the power companies. In practice that means that all customers have to pay for new capacity, rather than Amazon having to pay for the capacity needed for their plant.

      Amazon are adept at getting subsidies, sweetheart deals, and shoving infrastructure costs on others. Round my way (north Worcestershire), the cretins of local councils forked out about £7m on infrastructure to support Amazon building a single new greenfield warehouse. As you can imagine, we'll never see that money again, Amazon aren't paying, and due to shit planning about 95% of many thousands of vehicles that visit the site have to travel an additional five miles each way from the M42; It brings a modest number of low skill, low wage, zero hours jobs which they can't fill locally so have to bus workers in from Birmingham. So public money used to subsidise a US company that dodges taxes in the first place, loss of greenfield land, higher traffic and emissions, and a handful of shit jobs. That's what success looks like to Amazon.

    2. Crypto Monad Silver badge

      Re: Bell ends?

      But also curious about the social cost of deals like this. So this effectively takes up to half of the NPP's output out of the market at a time when policies are increasing demand for electricity.

      It doesn't really matter where they take the power from. Apart from saving a tiny amount in grid losses, data centres burn the same amount of power wherever they are located. As you say, any power they take displaces other grid users and forces more high-carbon generators to be turned on somewhere else.

    3. Lars Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Bell ends?

      The licenses will just get extended if there is nothing wrong with them.

      Commission date Unit 1: June 8, 1983, Unit 2: February 12, 1985.

      In 2029 they will be just around 45 year old with most likely many more years to operate.

  4. Jellied Eel Silver badge

    In 2029 they will be just around 45 year old with most likely many more years to operate.

    Maybe, but seems like a risk. Talen also has coal power stations in PA, but there's stuff like this-

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keystone_Generating_Station

    The power plant will close by or before December 31, 2028, as a result of a new wastewater rule that prohibits coal power plants from dumping mercury, arsenic, and selenium into streams and rivers, along with the Conemaugh Generating Station and at least 24 other power plants in 14 states

    1.7GW coal plant built in 1968, and modified a few times to clean it up. That one's owned by a consortium that includes Talen. It's interesting that some of the financial sites I follow are saying that the next big thing for tech investing isn't AI or datacentres, it's energy because of their dependency and insatiable demand. So how the US will deal with this, given it has much the same problems as the UK with conflicting policy.

    UK introduced it's 'Climate Change Act' which gave a 'legally binding' committment to reduce carbon emissions by 30%. We had this power station-

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kingsnorth_power_station

    Which was 2GW, but forced to close under the EU's LCPD (Large Combustion Plant Directive). The owners tried getting permission to replace it with a modern supercritical coal plant that would have reduced carbon emissions by 20-30%, even without CCS, but environmental campaigners forced it to be abandoned. Current policies seem to be very anti-baseload capacity, but there are some possible 'green shoots of recovery' with the UK signing up to a new nuclear committment. Similar noises have been heard from the US. But we need more affordable, reliable power and not just to feed datacentres.

    There's also been some interesting news on the nuclear front-

    https://www.power-technology.com/news/russia-uzbekistan-first-nuclear-plant/

    The Kremlin released documents stating that Russian state nuclear company Rosatom will construct six reactors in Uzbekistan, each with 55MW, providing 330MW of capacity in total.

    ...President Putin announced a Russian investment of $400m into a joint fund with Uzbekistan. The fund totals $500m and will finance projects within the country.

    Not clear if that's exclusively for building the six reactors, or covers other projects as well. But that sounds like an SMR project, possibly based on this design-

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RITM-200

    So it'll be interesting to see how that project goes, but potentially demonstrates the advantages of SMRs and collocated large energy consumers like datacentres. So interesting times, and there's a risk the West falls behind in providing useful 'clean energy'. But there are a bunch of interesting designs nearing rediness, eg-

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_Multiplier_Module

    Which can recycle old nuclear waste, and potentially produce heat for district heating, 'green' H2 and more. Plus it's from one of my favorite named companies. Who do you work for? General Atomics..

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