Microsoft is apparently considering powering its data centers with nuclear power plants. The company is currently looking for a “Principal Program Manager Nuclear Technology”, who will, among other things, technically evaluate whether data centers for the Microsoft cloud and artificial intelligence can be operated with small modular reactors (SMRs) or microreactors. For this purpose, the specialist sought by Microsoft should develop a strategy and a roadmap, according to a job offer on the Microsoft website.
The person you are looking for should ideally have experience in the energy industry and be familiar with the technology and the regulatory procedure, according to the job advertisement. The future program manager should have an overview of current research projects on nuclear power generation, identify feasibility, negotiate with potential suppliers and build long-term strategic relationships with providers.
Small and modular
Nuclear power plants that are smaller than conventional ones and have up to 300 MW of electrical output are referred to as SMR or “mini nuclear power plants”. They should also have a modular structure so that finished components could be delivered to the construction site at the future location of an SMR. Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates sees nuclear power as a way to combat climate change while increasing energy demand. In 2016, Gates founded the Breakthrough Energy Coalition with several billionaires. This in turn invests in the company, including in Terra Power, which is working on the SMR concept. Two years ago it was said that the first sodium-cooled nuclear power plant with an output of 345 MW was to be built in the US state of Wyoming.
Microreactors, which are being researched at the Idaho National Laboratory with the support of the US government, are set to become even smaller than SMR. They should produce less than 20 MW of thermal power, be manufactured in factories and be transportable. This means they could, for example, be used spontaneously in areas where electricity is urgently needed due to an emergency.
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Microsoft CEO sees the emergence of artificial intelligence as the next big wave of computing, for which he sees the company’s cloud as a platform into which AI models should be integrated, according to the job offer. However, this also means that the Microsoft infrastructure’s hunger for energy will continue to grow. Electricity from nuclear fusion can also be used to satisfy this demand. This year, Microsoft entered into a contract with the US company Helion Energy to obtain electricity from its planned fusion power plant. It should be finished around 2028.
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