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US government wants AI companies to improve their energy usage

 Amazon.
Amazon.

As the demand for electricity to power artificial intelligence data centers continues to rise, the US government is engaging in discussions with tech companies to address sustainability concerns.

A report from Axios claims Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm is driving efforts to boost power generation and reduce consumption, including potential investments in nuclear energy.

Bizarrely, Granholm doesn’t see AI as being the problem, but rather as part of the solution, however its energy demands must be addressed.

AI energy demands

One proposed solution to combat data centers’ drain on the grid is to deploy small nuclear plants near power-hungry sites. Nuclear power already accounts for around one-fifth of US electricity production.

Nuclear energy is a complicated and controversial topic. It is deemed to be a far greener source than burning fossil fuels, though it comes with higher risks, and nuclear plants can act as targets amid constant geopolitical tensions.

According to Granholm, discussions with companies like Amazon, Google, and Microsoft need “to accelerate, because this demand for power is only going up.”

Tech companies like those already mentioned have already started to invest more heavily in their contribution to the energy network, with nuclear, solar, wind, and geothermal plants all on the cards.

Granholm’s exclusive interview with Axios followed the announcement of a $1.52 billion loan guarantee to restart a nuclear power plant in Michigan. Subject to regulatory approval, it will become the first recommissioned nuclear plant in US history.

More broadly, artificial intelligence has been crowned as the technology with the biggest potential impact on humankind to date, offering significant productivity and efficiency boosts. However, as the technology becomes more ingrained in enterprise workflow, and with data centers already drawing a lot of attention for their energy and natural resource consumption, it’s clear that a huge global effort is required to ensure sustainability.

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