Microsoft Triples Down on Nuclear

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Call of Duty might soon be nuclear powered – at least, that’s what Microsoft is aiming for.

With the increasing demand for data center capacity and the recent surge in AI interest, the energy consumption of “the internet” is growing at an unprecedented rate. In an effort to keep up with the demand without shattering climate goals, Microsoft is doublingtripling, quadrupling down on nuclear.

What happened: Microsoft recently announced that the company is in search of an individual to head its small modular reactor (SMR) division to support the energy demand of what we assume is mostly Minecraft creations.

  • As the name suggests, SMRs are nuclear reactors in a compact package. With an energy output of about a third of traditional reactors, the ready-made design of SMRs allows for quick and affordable on-site deployment of nuclear energy.

The catch(es): SMRs are heavily debated as a clean energy source due to the radioactive waste that is produced from spent nuclear fuel. They also require highly enriched uranium fuel, much of which is currently controlled by Russia.

Quadrupling down

SMRs aren’t Microsoft’s first foray into nuclear options. Earlier this year, the company announced a power agreement with Helion – a startup company focusing on the early-stage technology of nuclear fusion. (Traditional nuclear power uses nuclear fission instead of fusion).

Microsoft also has an agreement with Ontario Power Generation to purchase clean energy credits from the utility’s first SMR in North America, when deployed.

  • It’s also no secret that the OG tech geek, Bill Gates, is the founder of TerraPower – an energy tech company currently developing it’s own SMR designs.

Zoom out: Although it might be several years before our ignored Outlook reminders are powered by nuclear energy, Microsoft is also currently invested carbon removal technologies such as carbon sequestration and direct air capture on the road to becoming a carbon-negative company by 2030. 

We’re not sure what the future of holds, but it’s clear that Microsoft is vying for a future that’s as green as the rolling hills of the default Windows XP wallpaper.