Norwegian firm proposes nuclear-powered AI centres

Norsk Kjernekraft’s illustrative image of an SMR-powered data centre development
Norway’s new nuclear-power company, Norsk Kjernekraft, says it wants to build small modular nuclear reactors (SMRs) to provide off-grid power to data centres and other energy-intensive industrial users.

It said it would stop users running AI applications from draining the grid of electricity.

“AI is extremely power-hungry, and researchers believe that in the future energy needs could go almost towards infinity,” the company said.

It added that, unlike cement or steel, there was “almost no limit to how many calculations humanity and AI will want to perform in the future”.

The plan is to use SMRs’ waste heat for metal smelting, hydrogen production, and district heating.

The company’s forecasts for additional electricity demand in Norway vary from 50TWh to 233TWh.

In 2023, Norway’s power plants produced 156TWh in total, according to the Norwegian Ministry of Energy.

88% of that came from hydroelectric dams.

The ministry said there was a danger that demand could hit a ceiling set by how much land was available for generation.

It credited Sweden and Finland adopting nuclear power for giving them a “clear advantage” because they could increase generation by adding reactors to ensure continued economic growth.

Norway does not currently have nuclear power stations.

Norsk Kjernekraft proposes building its first made up of five SMRs in the Øygarden municipality, west of Bergen (see further reading).

It has signed a deal with Rolls-Royce, which will supply the reactors for the site, and feasibility studies are currently being carried out.

The company believes the plant could be up and running in 10 years.

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