Amazon has put a new data center into operation for its web service. It is located right next to a nuclear power plant that supplies the necessary energy.

With every day that passes, the amount of information and data on the Internet grows. According to forecasts, up to 284.3 zettabytes of data could be circulating on the Internet in 2027. But how can this information be stored sustainably? After all, huge data centers usually require gigantic amounts of energy.

Amazon Web Services, Amazon's cloud division, is therefore testing a new approach. The company acquired Talen Energy's Cumulus Data Assets data center campus for $650 million. The newly acquired data center is particularly characterized by the energy mix used.

Because the operation is carried out 100 percent by the output of an adjacent nuclear power plant. This has an output of 2.5 gigawatts (GW) and covers an area of ​​1,200 hectares in Pennsylvania.

Amazon uses energy from nuclear power plants for its data center

The nuclear power plant called “Susquehanna Steam Electric Station” is one of the six largest nuclear power plants in the USA. Since it went into operation in 1983, it has produced 63 million kilowatt hours of electricity every day. The plant has two General Electric boiling water reactors, whose operating licenses run until 2042 and 2044.

Under an agreement between Amazon and Talen Energy, the utility will provide fixed-price nuclear power to Amazon's new data center. Amazon agreed to contractual minimum power purchase obligations, increasing in increments of 120 megawatts over several years. The group also has the one-off option to cap the commitments at 480 MW as well as two ten-year options for extensions that are tied to the renewal of the nuclear power licenses.

Operating from 100 percent sustainable energy?

With this concept, Amazon Web Services wants to cover 100 percent of its own energy needs with clean energy. However, it remains controversial to what extent nuclear power represents a sustainable energy source in the long term.

The Susquehanna Steam Electric Station was chosen because it is already in operation. Amazon is also taking over the data center campus on a turnkey basis.

In the long term, the local energy requirements of data centers could be available directly on site. It remains to be seen to what extent such an agreement will contribute to climate protection and what will happen after the operator's license expires in 2044.

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