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Companies Look to Alternative Energy to Power AI

Generative artificial intelligence uses enormous quantities of power—and that’s creating a market for data centers that run on alternative energy sources, according to The Wall Street Journal (subscription).

What’s going on: “Supply of electricity, which currently powers the vast majority of data centers, is already strained from existing demands on the country’s electric grids. AI could consume up to 3.5% of the world’s electricity by 2030, according to an estimate from IT research and consulting firm Gartner.”

Why it’s important: “AI and computing requirements from cloud and internet-connected devices will keep pushing demand for data centers higher.”

Solutions being explored: Tech giants have been among the first to look into nontraditional sources of energy to power their data centers. Now they’re broadening their search even more to include nuclear, geothermal and even flared gas, a byproduct of oil drilling.

  • One Colorado-based tech firm “has over 100 small, modular data centers built on-site at oil wells in states such as North Dakota, Colorado and Wyoming, where the company said it buys gas at low cost and has immediate access to it.”
  • A major Silicon Valley company has partnered with a geothermal startup to power one of its data centers.
  • Other firms are looking into nuclear fission to power their AI operations.
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