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Big Tech’s latest obsession is finding enough energy

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By illuminem briefings

· 2 min read

illuminem summarizes for you the essential news of the day. Read the full piece on Wall Street Journal or enjoy below:

🗞️ Driving the news: At the energy industry’s flagship conference, CERAWeek by S&P Global in Houston, the focus has shifted to the growing demand for electricity by artificial intelligence (AI) and data centers
• Tech giants like Amazon and Microsoft emphasized the challenge of meeting this demand without straining the power grid or hindering the transition to clean energy.

🔭 The context: The rapid expansion of AI necessitates a massive increase in data centers, which could significantly impact electricity consumption
•  Bill Gates highlighted the critical role of electricity in the profitability of data centers, while former U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz pointed out the utilities' dilemma in scaling up generation capacity amidst these rising demands

🌍 Why it matters for the planet: The surge in electricity demand for AI development poses a significant challenge for achieving carbon neutrality
•  With tech companies and utilities committed to reducing carbon emissions, the reliance on traditional energy sources like natural gas, coal, and even nuclear power becomes a contentious issue, complicating efforts to adhere to environmental goals

⏭️ What's next: The industry faces a dual challenge of scaling up electricity production to power AI's growth while simultaneously ensuring these energy sources are sustainable
• This may lead to increased reliance on a mix of energy sources, including fossil fuels and nuclear, as renewable energy development struggles to keep pace with the rapid demand increase

💬 One quote: "We’re not going to build 100 gigawatts of new renewables in a few years. You’re kind of stuck," said former U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, highlighting the significant obstacles in meeting AI-driven electricity demand with clean energy sources

📈 One stat: According to a report from consulting firm Grid Strategies, the five-year projection of U.S. electricity demand growth has doubled from a year ago, showcasing the significant impact of AI and data centers on energy consumption

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