new report has suggested that nuclear power could be a viable option to provide clean power to some of the world’s largest data centers. Analysists argue that small modular reactors (SMRs) could become prevalent in future years, replacing the need for data centers to draw power from the grid with their very own environmentally-friendly alternative.
Such reactors have been used in certain industries for many years, such as powering submarines in the US Navy, which has over 80 ships employing the technology. SMRs produce a lot less power than standard nuclear facilities, measured in megawatts as opposed to gigawatts. A typical large scale data center may use 125MW of power, meaning four SMRs would be needed if they produce a typical 35MW each. One problem, however, is the amount space needed to accommodate SMRs, typically requiring around 200,000 square feet. This means they would only really be viable in the largest data center sites. For this reason, the report recommends their use for colocations that require upwards of 100MW. Optimism still remains around SMRs, though. On the cost front, estimates that in several years time, reactors will cost between $40/MWh to $65/MWh over their lifetime, putting them close to wind and natural gas costs, but just behind solar.  However, the US Energy Information Agency expects wind and natural gas to increase, and for solar to remain the same, in the coming decades, making SMR more favorable by comparison.

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