Data Centers for Crypto mining and AI Causing Electricity Demand to Soar

An article in the New Yorker by Elizabeth Kolbert titled “The Obscene Energy Demands of A.I.” discusses the impact that data centers that run both artificial intelligence and cryptocurrency server systems have on the demand for electricity.

The article quotes Open IA CEO Sam Altman on the topic who said recently at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland that a breakthrough is needed to be able to handle the power demands of Ai: “I think we still don’t appreciate the energy needs of this technology . . . We need fusion or we need, like, radically cheaper solar plus storage, or something, at massive scale—like, a scale that no one is really planning for.”

A Washington Post article by Evan Halper titled “Amid explosive demand, America is running out of power” deals with the same topic.

According to the article utility leaders are lobbying the US government to ease back on requirements to retire fossil fuel power plants because the increasing amount of electricity being required by data centers, and new factories, which is projected to increase sharply in the near future. Coal plant closures have already been delayed in some US states.

In some localities, regulators are delaying installation of new data centers, concerned that the electricity grid cannot sustain the new demand. This has led to some companies seeking off-grid solutions. From the article:

“Microsoft and Google are among the firms hoping that energy-intensive industrial operations can ultimately be powered by small nuclear plants on-site, with Microsoft even putting AI to work trying to streamline the burdensome process of getting plants approved. Microsoft has also inked a deal to buy power from a company trying to develop zero-emissions fusion power.”