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AWS just bought a nuclear-powered data center

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Amazon Web Services (AWS) has secured a nuclear-powered data center campus as part of a $650 million agreement with Texas-based electricity generation and transmission company Talen Energy.

AWS’s acquisition includes the Cumulus data center complex, situated next to Talen’s 2.5 gigawatt Susquehanna nuclear power plant in the northwest of Pennsylvania.

Cumulus, which claimed a 48-megawatt capacity when it opened last year, was already on track to expand nearly tenfold to 475 megawatts under Talen’s ownership. The Amazon takeover could spell out even more growth as the cloud giant looks to power its data centers with cleaner energy sources.

AWS nuclear-powered data center

Amazon’s payments are set to be staggered, with a $350 million lump sum due upon deal closure and a further $300 million awarded upon the completion of certain development milestones set to take place this year.

As part of the agreement, Talen will continue to supply Amazon with direct access to power produced by its Susquehanna nuclear power plant, which could reach heights of 960 megawatts in the coming years.

While nuclear energy may be a controversial power source, AWS’s acquisition aligns with its commitment to carbon-free and renewable energy sources. Data centers are already being scrutinized for their intensive energy and natural resource consumption, and AWS has plenty of them dotted all over the world.

Amazon has also been busy snapping up other green energy opportunities, such as the Oregon-based wind farm that it signed a power purchase agreement for last month.

Moreover, the substantial move could be one that keeps it ahead of key rivals. The likes of Microsoft and Google have also been busy transitioning to clean energy in recent months in a bid to reduce the environmental burden of data centers, with nuclear, wind, solar and geothermal plants all being considered.

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