Tech companies collaborating to accelerate advanced nuclear

Technology companies compete with each other in a lot of ways but they all want to achieve the goal of being able to run operations and data centers using 24/7 carbon-free energy. They’ve done about as much as they can trying to buy, build and/or get credits from wind and solar plants and it hasn’t been sufficient. With its announcement, Google acknowledges that they “need a broader portfolio of advanced clean electricity technologies” to be able to fully decarbonize their energy consumption.

The announcement lists the following as “advanced clean electricity technologies”: next-generation geothermal, advanced nuclear, clean hydrogen and long-duration energy storage.  This is an astounding announcement because it makes it clear that the tech companies are now moving their focus away from wind and solar, which are just too inconsistent and unreliable, to better, more reliable options.

The initiative aims to aggregate their demand for better types of clean energy to increase their buying power, their lobby power (we have to believe) and diversify the risks of investing in first-of-a-kind (FOAK) plants, whose costs are always higher than “Nth” of a kind plants. They recognize that there are a bevy of developers looking to build next-generation nuclear (and probably also geothermal) plants and they want to be able to help these ventures build those FOAK units, without each individually and solely having to take on risk. This is a tremendously important initiative and concept, it will definitely help accelerate the timelines for companies seeking to get plants built.

THe announcement comes just a few weeks after Amazon announced their purchase of Talen’s nuclear-power Cumulous Data Center, which will enable Amazon Web Services to achieve their very ambitious decarbonization goal by 2025. But there aren’t many nuclear power plants with spare generating capacity. In order to get access to sufficient quantities of 24/7 clean nuclear power, the U.S. will need to start building next-generation plants, many of which will be Gen IV designs.

Read more at Google’s The Keyword:   “A new initiative with Microsoft and Nucor to accelerate advanced clean electricity technologies,” by Maud Texler, Global Director, Clean Energy and Decarbonization Development March 19, 2024.

Also see the IEA Report, Net Zero by 2050: A Roadmap for the Global Energy Sector, cited by Google for its support of the need for advanced energy technologies, revised October 2021.

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