The Data Center Frontier Show

Data Center Frontier’s editors are your guide to how next-generation technologies are changing our world, and the critical role the data center industry plays in creating our extraordinary future.

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Episodes

Tuesday Mar 19, 2024

For this episode of the DCF Show podcast, we interview Jason Carolan, Chief Innovation Officer at data center operator Flexential. He’s a 25-year expert in the enterprise IT industry, with experience leading companies through technological evolutions like the one we’re experiencing right now. 
Carolan believes there is a bigger story to uncover from the sheer dollar amount of Nvidia’s recent blockbuster valuation. In response to Nvidia’s market dominance in AI and data centers, Carolan wanted to discuss larger trends that may follow from this specific news moment. 
According to Carolan:  “Nvidia's earnings results and forecasts for a continued AI boom doesn't come as too much of a surprise with the volume of businesses that are increasingly testing and utilizing the technology.
Nvidia's data center business is a combination of GPU and their network technologies, which further showcases the importance of high performance architectures that can support next generation AI demands. The company is currently forecasted to ship 4-5 times more GPUs this coming year – indicating another trend line with little competition in sight. 
As inference matures, we will see more diversity in chip suppliers but that is a ways off. The bottom line is that, now with accelerating AI rollouts, companies will need more compute capacity, ultra-high bandwidth and very low latency in order to succeed.”

Tuesday Mar 05, 2024

This January, Milldam Public Relations announced the launch of its Data Center Community Relations Service, which the company's President and Founder Adam Waitkunas claims is the first community relations service exclusively serving the data center space and the digital infrastructure sector. 
In addition to tailormade communication strategies, Adam contends that data center community relations will require coalition building and garnering influence with local officials and stakeholders. He says the new service has been launched in response to the recent widespread backlash to data center development and the lack of tools to combat this within the data center industry. 
Personally overseeing the new service offering, Adam is a public relations professional with nearly twenty years of data center industry experience and a background in politics and public affairs, including extensive experience in media relations, marketing strategy, business development and strategic partnerships. 
Prior to founding Milldam Public Relations in 2005, Adam was the manager of Doug Stevenson's 14th Middlesex District State Representative campaign, which set a record for fundraising for a challenger in a Massachusetts State Representative race.
Concord, Massachusetts-based Milldam Public Relations is a full-service public relations firm that provides competitively priced strategic communications, media-relations and event management to a diverse array of clients throughout the country. 
The firm has solidified its position as the go-to public relations firm for companies in the critical infrastructure space. Clients from Boston to Los Angeles include: The Association of Information Technology Professionals-Los Angeles, OpTerra Energy Services, The Critical Facilities Summit, Hurricane Electric, Instor Solutions, Inc., and RF Code.
Under Adam's direction, Milldam has helped technology clients across the country secure articles in publications such as: The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, CFO Magazine, Data Center Knowledge, Green Tech Media, The Boston Business Journal, Mission Critical Magazine, The Silicon Valley Business Journal and Capacity Magazine, among others. 
Additionally, in his career Adam has helped businesses become thought leaders in their fields and a valued resource for industry-specific media, helping them to increase sales, promote awareness and become attractive targets for M&A. 
 
Data Center Community Relations Service
The new service is premised on the reality that, for many years, the data center industry has frequently operated under the radar, but has become more visible within the last few years. Certain communities throughout North America have taken notice and have started pushing back municipally against proposed developments, most notably in Virginia and Arizona. 
For example, in recent months, a number of Virginia environmental groups formed a coalition calling s for more oversight of the data center industry. And in January, King George County, Virginia officials voted to renegotiate a prior agreement for a large cloud provider's $6B Virginia data center campus.  The reversal is partly due to growing local political opposition to data center development.
With the launch of Milldam's Data Center Community Relations Service, Waitkunas contends that the digital infrastructure sector now has access to an offering that will equip them with the tools necessary to articulate the benefits of data centers to the local community while proactively addressing local concerns such as traffic infrastructure management and noise, helping to ensure a smoother path to success for the development. 
Critical infrastructure plays a predominant role in most people's daily lives throughout North America, driving the need for data center operators. Waitkunas points out that strong community engagement is essential for data centers to properly communicate their value and successfully navigate the complexity of community relations. 
To help data center developers achieve their goals, Milldam's community relations practice offers the following services: 
•    Establishing partnerships with third-party organizations such as Chambers of Commerce.•    Communicating the numerous benefits of data centers in the community, including economic development, infrastructure improvements, and job creation.•    Developing and providing key talking points.•    Ensuring that local decision-makers hear the client's messages.•    Implementing a wide variety of grassroots campaigns and community outreach. •    Enabling local supporters to serve as ambassadors and equipping them with the tools to communicate the benefits of proposed developments. •    Building coalitions.•    Garnering the pulse of public opinion.
"If the industry fails to properly engage with localities, years of industry progress will be in jeopardy," said Waitkunas. "It's imperative that developers and operators implement community relations to help ensure a seamless development process."
Here's a timeline of key discussion points on the podcast:
2:35 - Adam explains that the idea for the practice came from his background in public affairs and politics, and that it involves building coalitions and partnerships with third party organizations to help data centers overcome obstacles they face when moving into suburban areas.
4:41 - Adam discusses the importance of having individual community members form coalitions with data center developers to speak on their behalf and push issues forward.
8:09 - Adam reveals that the firm is currently working with two developers and has proposals out to other organizations since launching the practice in mid-January.
9:16 - On the importance of timing in getting ahead of community concerns and identifying cheerleaders for data center projects.
10:37 - The PR practice wants the local community to be the main cheerleader for data center projects and will help manage the coalition.
13:01 - Adam notes there is still a lot of community education needed on data centers regarding the ins and outs of countering noise and environmental concerns.
15:10 - Adam explains how the PR practice has been doing outreach to large players in the data center industry and tailoring campaigns for each community's concerns.
23:18 - On the necessity for developers to put together community relations plans and crisis communications plans for their data center projects.
Here are links to some related DCF articles:
The NIMBY Challenge: A Way Forward for the Data Center Industry
Rezoning for PW Digital Gateway Data Centers Approved By Virginia's Prince William County Supervisors
Keeping Your Cool While Getting Your Work Done
iMasons Sharpen Focus on the Community Impact of Data Centers
Being a Good Neighbor Means Considering Community Impact During Site Selection
Data Center Development Spurs More Debate in Prince William County

Tuesday Feb 20, 2024

For this episode of the DCF Show podcast, Data Center Frontier's Editor in Chief Matt Vincent and Senior Editor David Chernicoff speak with Burns & McDonnell's Robert Bonar, PE, LEED AP, Vice President, Mission Critical Facilities, and Christine Wood, Vice President leading the firm's Dallas-Fort Worth Global Facilities practice. 
Burns & McDonnell is a provider of engineering, architecture, construction, environmental and consulting solutions, who as part of its mission-critical and data center practice is brought in to help plan, design, permit, construct and manage client projects in the space. Bonar and Wood begin the podcast by providing an overview of the company and their roles there, along with their backgrounds in the industry. 
An overarching theme of the discussion is how a client's selection of a data center and mission critical consultant is based on more than just an ability to meet service needs. The discussion also covers current data center industry construction trends, especially in the areas of siting and power, while probing the similiarities and differences in planning data center builds for enterprise, colocation and hyperscale clients.
D-FW Data Center Market Focus
Cushman & Wakefield’s 2023 Dallas-Fort Worth Data Center Report stated that the Dallas-Fort Worth data center markets saw record absorption of 386 Megawatts in 2023 -- a nearly 7x increase since 2020 -- driven by exponential growth in demand for cloud computing and AI/machine learning applications. 
Cushman & Wakefield further reported the Dallas-Fort Worth market's vacancy to be at an all-time low of 3.73% last year, with colocation rents and data center land prices there continuing to rise. The commercial real estate services company added:
"Despite a robust construction pipeline – 1.4 million square feet that can provide 225 MW – the vast majority of the market’s new data center supply for 2024 and 2025 has been pre-leased. Cloud providers securing large campuses through pre-leasing and AI/ML companies leasing the market’s few remaining pockets of available space are the primary drivers of DFW’s record demand."
DCF asked Wood and Bonar about the D-FW data center market and Burns & McDonnell's role in it, including the firm's background and present developments there, as well as the location's future roadmap regarding power, interconnectivity, workforce factors.
Here's a time line of key discussion points on the podcast:
2:27 - After introductions and table-setting, the Burns & McDonnell experts emphasize the importance of looking at data center client needs holistically and getting ahead of what they need for a given project.
4:53 - Discussion turns to the impact of generative AI on the data center industry and the uptick in demand for first-of-a-kind designs.
8:44 - Further exploration of how the rapid pace of change in the data center industry has bred increased demand in the market for qualities such as speed-to-market and first-of-a-kind design.
9:22 - DCF inquires about planning for different types of data center builds, and the differences between enterprise, colocation, and hyperscale developments, as well as the impact of AI support, are explored.
14:34 - The discussion further illuminates challenges and changes in the data center industry, including the influence of AI technology on new designs and in future-proofing facilities.
15:04 - Burns & McDonell's Wood discusses the D-FW data center market, highlighting its growth potential due to its central location, low real estate costs, and robust power availability.
20:25 - To conclude, DCF's editors circle back to the topic of renewables and solar consulting in relation to data centers, leading to a discussion on combining solar with battery storage for future data center needs.
Here are links to some related DCF articles:
The Current State of Power Constraints for New Data Center Construction
Skybox Plans 300-Megawatt Campus South of Dallas
Building Greener: Compass Seeks Sustainability in its Construction, Supply Chain
Dallas Sees Record Data Center Leasing Activity in 2022
The Big City Edge: Dallas is a Hotbed for Edge Computing
Power Infrastructure and Tax Incentives Drive Dallas Data Center Market
 

Tuesday Feb 13, 2024

For this episode of the Data Center Frontier Show podcast, it's financial earnings call season, so Editor in Chief Matt Vincent and Senior Editor David Chernicoff take the opportunity to discuss DCF's top 5 most popular data center and cloud computing industry stories for the fourth quarter of 2023, which were as follows: 
1. Dominion: Virginia’s Data Center Cluster Could Double in Size
Dominion Energy says it has customer contracts that could double the amount of data center capacity in Virginia by 2028 and is planning new power lines to support this growth. Virginia is already the world’s largest market for cloud computing infrastructure. Despite the current power constraints around Ashburn, the data center market in Virginia is positioned to grow much larger. The utility says it has received customer orders that could double the amount of data center capacity in Virginia by 2028, with a projected market size of 10 gigawatts by 2035. That represents a huge increase from current data center power use, which reached 2.67 gigawatts in 2022. The utility’s projections mean that Virginia will continue to experience tensions between the growth of the Internet and the infrastructure to support it. Data Center Frontier's Founder and Editor at Large, Rich Miller, reports.
2. Microsoft Unveils Custom-Designed Data Center AI Chips, Racks and Liquid Cooling
At Microsoft Ignite last November, the company unveiled two custom-designed chips and integrated systems resulting from a multi-step process for meticulously testing its homegrown silicon, the fruits of a method the company's engineers have been refining in secret for years, as revealed at its Source blog. The end goal is an Azure hardware system that offers maximum flexibility and can also be optimized for power, performance, sustainability or cost, said Rani Borkar, corporate vice president for Azure Hardware Systems and Infrastructure (AHSI). “Software is our core strength, but frankly, we are a systems company. At Microsoft we are co-designing and optimizing hardware and software together so that one plus one is greater than two,” Borkar said. “We have visibility into the entire stack, and silicon is just one of the ingredients.” The newly introduced Microsoft Azure Maia AI Accelerator chip is optimized for artificial intelligence (AI) tasks and generative AI. For its part, the Microsoft Azure Cobalt CPU is an Arm-based processor chip tailored to run general purpose compute workloads on the Microsoft Cloud. Microsoft said the new chips will begin to appear by early this year in its data centers, initially powering services such as Microsoft Copilot, an AI assistant, and its Azure OpenAI Service. They will join a widening range of products from the company's industry partners geared toward customers eager to take advantage of the latest cloud and AI technology breakthroughs.
3. The Eight Trends That Will Shape the Data Center Industry in 2023
Rich Miller predicted that 2023 would be a year of dueling cross currents that could constrain or accelerate business activity in the sector. DCF's Vincent and Chernicoff briefly review last year's trends, remarking on how so many of them are still in full effect for the industry right now.
Scorecard: Looking Back at Data Center Frontier’s 2023 Industry Predictions
4.  Google Is Now Reducing Data Center Energy Use During Local Power Emergencies
Last October, Google shared details of a system optimized to reduce the energy use of data centers when there is a local power emergency. Core functions of the system, which has the hallmarks of a universally applicable technology, include postponing low-priority workloads, and moving others to other regions that are less constrained. Regarding the system, Michael Terrell, Google's Senior Director for Energy and Climate, explained in a LinkedIn post how the new demand response capability can temporarily reduce power consumption from Google data centers when it’s needed, and provide flexibility to the local grids that power its data center operations. Demand response helps grid operators serve their customers reliably during times of need, such as in times of supply constraints or extreme weather events. Terrell's post empasized that "demand response can be a big tool to help grids run more cost-effectively and efficiently, and it can accelerate system-wide grid decarbonization." Google’s Climate and Energy teams created the new system, which Terrell called an important development toward running the company's data centers "intelligently, efficiently and carbon-free."
5. Cloudflare Outage: There’s Plenty Of Blame To Go Around
The Cloudflare outage in the first week of November drew quite a bit of attention, not only because Cloudflare’s services are extremely popular, so their failure was quickly noticed, but also because of the rapid explanation of the problem posted in the Cloudflare Blog shortly after the incident. This explanation placed a significant portion of the blame squarely on Flexential and their response to the issues with electricity provider PGE, and potential issues that PGE was having. Cloudflare was able to restore most of its services in 8 hours at its disaster recovery facility. It runs its primary services at three data centers in the Hillsboro, Oregon area, geolocated in such a way that natural disasters are unlikely to impact more than a single data center. DCF's David Chernicoff noted, "While almost all of the coverage of this incident starts off by focusing on the problems that might have been caused by Flexential, I find that I have to agree with the assessment of Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince: To start, this never should have happened.”
Here are links to some related DCF articles:
DCF Show: Data Center Frontier's Rich Miller Returns For a Visit
DCF Tours: Flexential Dallas-Plano Data Center, 18 MW Colocation Facility
Meta Previews New Data Center Design for an AI-Powered Future
For Leading Cloud Platforms, AI Presents a Major Opportunity
AI Propels Cloud Growth, Digital Infrastructure Investment to New Heights
 

Tuesday Jan 30, 2024

Even in a month where Equinix very notably rolled out its fully managed private cloud service for enabling enterprises to easily acquire and manage their own NVIDIA DGX AI supercomputing infrastructure, the better to build and run custom generative AI models, there was yet another, not unrelated, announcement from the foundational provider of colocation data centers and digital transformation solutions. 
It was in the context of the AI platform rollout with NVIDIA that Equinix this month also issued its annual Global Interconnection Index (GXI) 2024 Report, which uncovers digital infrastructure trends driving the decision-making of both enterprises and service providers. 
The Equinix statement announcing managed services for the NVIDIA DGX AI supercomputing platform noted that the service includes the NVIDIA DGX systems, NVIDIA networking and the NVIDIA AI Enterprise software platform. For the platform offering, Equinix installs and operates each customer's privately owned NVIDIA infrastructure and can deploy services on their behalf in key locations of its International Business Exchange (IBX) data centers globally. 
Equinix also emphasized that its NVIDIA DGX service offers high-speed private network access to global network service providers, enabling quick generative AI information retrieval across corporate wide area networks. In addition, the service provides private, high-bandwidth interconnections to cloud services and enterprise service providers to facilitate AI workloads while meeting data security and compliance requirements.
Through its offering of NVIDIA DGX AI supercomputing infrastructure services, Equinix contends that enterprises can scale their infrastructure operations to achieve the level of AI performance needed to develop and run massive models. The company also revealed that early access companies using the service has included leaders in sectors including biopharma, financial services, software, automotive and retail, many of whom are building AI Centers of Excellence to provide a strategic foundation for a broad range of rapidly developing LLM use cases.
As a related study Equinix commissions each year, the operator's GXI Report comprises a survey of global IT leaders to gather insight on what’s behind the digital economy. Based on the study's latest findings, Equinix stated its belief that the industry has hit a tipping point in resourcing decisions, vis a vis the notion that buying dedicated IT hardware now puts customers at a competitive disadvantage. 
For this episode of the DCF Show podcast, Data Center Frontier editors Matt Vincent and David Chernicoff met with Steve Madden, Equinix VP of Digital Transformation and Segment Marketing, to discuss some of the GXI 2024 report's more meaningful findings related to current data center trends and predictions in digital transformation, IT and spending, including the operator's nearly concurrent AI managed services offering.
For instance, the GXI report found that enterprises are growing at a 39% CAGR -- 25% faster than service providers -- reaching 12,908 Tbps of total capacity. DCF asked Madden: Since the global pandemic, how much have enterprises leaned on digital providers to focus on responding to business needs, and does Equinix expect such trends to continue going forward? Also, the GXI report found that 80% of enterprises will design and run new digital IT infrastructure using subscription-based services by 2026. We asked Madden: What does that mean for data centers? The report also found that by 2025, 85% of global companies will have expanded multicloud access across several regions. We asked: How will data centers best be able to manage such demand? 
In his remarks, Madden pointed out that Equinix has the most cloud on-ramps of any data center operator in the world, and predicted that the majority of multinational enterprises will be multi-cloud connected in multiple regions around the world in the near future. Madden noted that nowadays -- i.e. in the post-pandemic age of AI -- enterprises are looking for strategic partners, not just vendors, in composing their infrastructure, and seek to do so with a set of key providers to help them move more quickly in their digital transformations.

Tuesday Jan 23, 2024

This month on the Data Center Frontier Show podcast, we read down site founder and Editor at Large Rich Miller's annual data center industry trends forecast. This week's article read looks at how AI is driving design updates for power and cooling, why air permitting at scale is a hot potato for the industry, and optimal site selection for Green MegaCampuses.
Rich Miller has delivered his annual article containing his top data center industry forecasts, predictions and insights for the year ahead. Of chief concern among the 8 key themes forecasted to define the year is how the AI boom will ripple through the digital infrastructure sector in 2024, impacting the availability of data center space, the supply chain, and factors of pricing, cooling, power and design.
Since our industry coverage at DCF throughout the year will frequently refer back to this forecast article, we've decided to enumerate all eight themes throughout several podcast episodes this month. 
For this episode, we read down the article's themes 6 through 8:
6.  AI Drives Design Updates for Power and Cooling7.  Air Permitting at Scale is a Hot Potato8.  Site Selection Optimizes for Green MegaCampuses
"Artificial intelligence is hot," writes Miller. "So hot that the AI boom is creating a resource-constrained world, driving stupendous demand for GPUs, data centers and AI expertise. All three are likely to be in short supply, but none so much as wholesale data center space. This is the trend that dominates our annual forecast."
Read the full forecast: The Eight Themes That Will Shape the Data Center Industry in 2024

Tuesday Jan 16, 2024

For this episode of the DCF Show podcast, Data Center Frontier spoke with Sam Rabinowitz, CEO of Lantana, a supplier and provider of LED luminaires for the data center industry -- especially for hyperscalers, but also for energy-efficiency retrofits in mature facilities.
Key discussion points include the following:
0:15 - Lantana broke into the data center industry by working with a hyperscaler customer to design and implement rapid deployment prototypes for their initial data center builds on the interior structure, including lighting.
3:14 - Lantana's LED fixtures run cool and are energy-efficient, achieving up to 90% efficiency over nearly a decade of use. The LED lighting fixtures are UL certified for elevated ambient operating temperatures, providing operational flexibility for data centers in hot environments.
5:45 - Sam explains how Lantana's focus on energy-efficiency and materials efficiency can lead to cost savings and a positive impact on the environment.
13:26 - Sam emphasizes the importance of a "micro to macro" approach in greening data, starting with individual components, and scaling up to entire campuses and programs.
15:46 - Data Center Frontier Editor in Chief Matt Vincent asks for takes regarding the impact of AI on the data center industry. In response, Sam discusses the need for new products and approaches to designing and engineering data centers to accommodate for chip-level heat.
19:32 - Matt asks about Lantana's plans for 2024. In response, Sam describes Lantana's new products as being tailored for digital infrastructure and expansion of the hyperscalers, as well as furnishing renovations for increased energy efficiency in data centers of all sizes.
26:46 - Sam emphasizes the importance of lighting in data centers for safety and functionality, and the discussion compares it to cabling as a core, fundamental element of every data center.
Visit Data Center Frontier.

Wednesday Jan 10, 2024

This month on the Data Center Frontier Show podcast, we read down site founder and Editor at Large Rich Miller's annual data center industry trends forecast. 
Since our industry coverage at DCF throughout the year will frequently refer back to this forecast, we've decided to enumerate all eight themes throughout several podcast episodes this month. 
Today's read looks at how pricing for AI capacity will probably only continue to trend higher, and how data center supply chain relationships will matter more than ever in 2024. We also examine how more momentum for modular data centers' prefabricated IT ethos should take hold in the coming year.
"Artificial intelligence is hot," writes Miller. "So hot that the AI boom is creating a resource-constrained world, driving stupendous demand for GPUs, data centers and AI expertise. All three are likely to be in short supply, but none so much as wholesale data center space. This is the trend that dominates our annual forecast."
For this episode, we read down the article's themes 3 through 5:
3.  Pricing for AI Capacity Will Continue Higher4.  Supply Chain: Relationships Matter More Than Ever5.  More Momentum for Modular
Read the full forecast: The Eight Themes That Will Shape the Data Center Industry in 2024

Wednesday Jan 03, 2024

Data Center Frontier's founder and Editor at Large Rich Miller has delivered his annual article containing his top data center industry forecasts, predictions and insights for the year ahead. 
Of chief concern is how the AI boom will ripple through the digital infrastructure sector in 2024, impacting the availability of data center space, the supply chain, and factors of pricing, cooling, power and design.
Since our industry coverage at DCF throughout the year will frequently refer back to this forecast, we've decided to enumerate all 8 themes throughout several podcast episodes this month. 
For this episode, we read down the article's first two themes:
1. The AI Boom Creates a Data Center Space Crunch2. Rethinking Power on Every Level 
Read the full forecast at Data Center Frontier: The Eight Themes That Will Shape the Data Center Industry in 2024

Tuesday Dec 19, 2023

For this episode of the Data Center Frontier Show podcast, DCF's editors sat down with James Walker, BEng, MSc, CEng, PEng, CEO and board member of Nano Nuclear Energy Inc., and Jay Jiang Yu, Nano Nuclear Energy's founder, executive chairman and president, for a discussion regarding industry news and technology updates surrounding small modular reactor (SMR) and microreactor nuclear onsite power generation systems for data centers.
James Walker is a nuclear physicist and was the project lead and manager for constructing the new Rolls-Royce Nuclear Chemical Plant; he was the UK Subject Matter Expert for the UK Nuclear Material Recovery Capabilities, and was the technical project manager for constructing the UK reactor core manufacturing facilities. Walker has extensive experience in engineering and project management, particularly within nuclear engineering, mining engineering, mechanical engineering, construction, manufacturing, engineering design, infrastructure, and safety management. He has executive experience in several public companies, as well as acquiring and re-developing the only fluorspar mine in the U.S.
Jay Jiang Yu is a serial entrepreneur and has over 16 years of capital markets experience on Wall Street. He is a private investor in a multitude of companies and has advised a magnitude of private and public company executives with corporate advisory services such as capital funding, mergers and acquisitions, structured financing, IPO listings, and other business development services. He is a self-taught and private self-investor whose relentless passion for international business has helped him develop key, strategic and valuable relationships throughout the world. Yu leads the corporate structuring, capital financings, executive level recruitment, governmental relationships and international brand growth of Nano Nuclear Energy Inc. Previously, he worked as an analyst as part of the Corporate & Investment Banking Division at Deutsche Bank in New York City.
Here's a timeline of key points discussed during the podcast:
0:22 - Nano Nuclear Energy Expert Introductions1:38 - Topic Set-up Re: DCF Senior Editor David Chernicoff's recent data center microreactor and SMR explorations.1:59 - How microreactors might impact the data center industry. (Can time-to-market hurdles be shrunk?)2:20 - Chernicoff begins the interview with James and Jay. How the NuScale project difficulties in the SMR segment resulted in the DoD pulling back on preliminary microreactor contracts in Alaska due to market uncertainties directly related to NuScale. 3:23 - Perspectives on NuScale and nuclear power.4:21 - James Walker on NuScale vs. microreactor prospects: 
"They have a very good technology. They're still the only licensed company out there, and they probably will bounce back from this. It's not good optics when people are expecting product to come out of the market. And NuScale was to be the first, but market conditions and the structure of SPACs and the lack of us infrastructure can all complicate what they want to do. Half the reason for them taking so long is because the infrastructure was not in place to support what they wanted to do. 
But even hypothetically, even if the SMR market, as an example, was to collapse, microreactors are really targeting a very different area of market. SMRs are looking to power cities and big things like that. Microreactors, you're looking at mine sites, charging stations, free vehicles, disaster relief areas, military bases, remote habitation, where they principally fund all their energy using diesel. It's kind of hitting a different market. So even if the SMR market goes away, there's still a huge, tremendous upside, potential untapped market in the microreactor space."
5:39 - DCF Editor in Chief Matt Vincent asks, "What's the pros and cons of the prospects for microreactors versus what we're commonly thinking about in terms of SMR for data centers?"
5:51 - Nano Nuclear's James Walker responds: 
"I would start with the advantages of microreactors over SMR. It's smaller, it'll be cheaper, it'll be safer, it'll be more deployable, you'll have far more economies of scale of producing hundreds of these things. They're easier to decommission, remove, they're easier to take apart. 
I mean, logistically, shipping these things around the world as if they were diesel generators is a very feasible prospect. Opex cost will be far lower. Personnel that need to be involved in the day to day physical operation will be negligible. 
Where the disadvantage of a microreactor is, is that SMRs would provide a cheaper form of electricity. But as SMRs are providing for cities, microreactors are more for remote locations, remote industrial projects, remote data centers, those kind of things. 
You're really competing with sort of the high costs of remote diesel. 
As an example, we were speaking with some Canadian government officials and they were saying [with] some of their remote habitations, they can have a community of 800 people, but it still costs $10 million US in fuel alone, ignoring all of the logistical costs of bringing that fuel in on a daily basis, just to power those remote communities that have no possibility of being hooked up to a grid because it's too far. 
And that would be the same for all sorts of things, like if you want a remote data center, remote or mining operations, remote industrial projects, oil and gas things, then microreactors aren't really competing with SMRs on cost."
7:33 - Data Center Frontier's David Chernicoff asks:
"We're a data center publication, so that obviously is a lot of interest to us, and you pointed out how diesel is the primary methodology for backup power for data centers. 
I realize no one has actually shipped a microreactor yet in this form factor. But one of the advantages, for example, that comes from Project PELE from the US DoD was the decision to standardize on Tristructural Isotropic (TRISO) fuel so that for anybody building one, now, the whole issue of building infrastructure to provide the fuel is significantly simplified. 
Realistically (and obviously we're asking you to make a projection here, but), when you're able to deliver microreactors at any sort of scale, will they be competitive with diesel generators in the data center space? And I would also allow for you to say, well, diesel generators also have to deal with all the emissions issues, environmental concerns, greenhouse gases, et cetera, that are not issues with a containerized nuclear power plant. So will there be a realistic model there?"
8:45 - James Walker compares the financing costs of diesel generators vs. microreactors.
9:28 - Walker offers this forecast:
"With competing with diesel generators, once the infrastructure [for nuclear] is built back up, and you have deconversion facilities and enrichment facilities able to produce High-Assay Low-Enriched Uranium (HALEU) fuel, and companies are able to source this stuff very readily, the capital costs come down markedly. And that'll be the same for people like NuScale. Then there'll be an optimization period, typically, I would expect over an eight-year period of launch. So, say microreactors launch in 2030, nearing 2040, I believe the cost will be competitive with diesel by that point. Because the optimization will kick in, the infrastructure will all be in place. And the economies of scale over which these things are being produced means that, yes, you'll essentially have a nuclear battery that can compete with diesel, that can give you 15 years of clean energy, at a cheaper rate. That's what the projections show currently."
10:31 - Discussion point clarifying that nuclear microreactors for battery backup are being positioned for replacement of diesel generation, as distinct from SMR power plant options.
12:00 - Walker explains how the power range of microreactors can vary. SMRs will give you 100 MW of power for enormous data centers and AI, but microreactors allow for data centers to be sited anywhere. If more power for a larger facility is needed, multiple microreactors can serve into the microgrid at the location.
12:50 - Nano Nuclear's Jay Jiang Yu notes, "We've been contacted by Bitcoin mining companies as well, because they want to actually power their data centers in cold environments like Alaska. We've been contacted many times, actually, and there is like a trending topic on 'Bitcoin nuclear.'" 
13:28 - Regarding microreactors' being employed in conjunction with microgrids, DCF's Chernicoff asks:
"Do you see this being eventually being sort of a package deal -- not just for data centers (obviously data centers will be a big consumer of this) -- but for deployable microgrids where you have battery power, microreactors providing primary power sources, integrating the microgrid with the local utility grids to allow for providing power back to the grid in times of need, pull power from the grid when it's cheap, that kind of whole microgrid active partner model?"
14:19 - Walker holds forth on nuclear investment stakes, and where microreactor and microgrid technology fits in.
16:16 - On the compactness of microreactors, occupying less than an acre.
17:33 - Asking again about the US DoD's Project PELE, how microreactors were instrumental, and what the project's implications might be for data centers.
18:14 - Walker explains how Project PELE was a microreactor program developed by the  US DoD to create a 1.5 megawatt electric microactor to serve the US military in wider capacity in remote areas such as Iraq or Afghanistan forced to rely entirely on diesel power generation. 
Walker adds, "Project PELE, even though it began as a military thing, is probably going to have enormous benefits for the wider microreactor market, because there's a lot of development work that can go into fees and inform commercial and civil designs."
19:58 - DCF's Chernicoff notes:
"I presume that one of the biggest factors that PELE brought was the standardization for the fuel, the transportability, the applications people were considering with it, and the form factor. Can I stick it into 40 foot containers and get it to my site? Once you standardize on those things, prices start to come down, and that's going to be a big part of making this acceptable to the data center industry, to replace diesel generators or to build microgrids around."
20:31 - More from Nano Nuclear's Walker on how and why the ultimate aim of microreactors is to replace diesel generators.
21:20 - DCF's Vincent asks the Nano Nuclear experts whether, beyond bitcoin mining data centers, they've fielded much interest from standard data center operators? 
21:25 - In response, Walker says:
"There's been some big ones. Like Microsoft, as an example, were incredibly interested in powering a lot of their remote data centers with nuclear, and so they've even put out funding opportunities to this effect. But on the smaller front, we've seen Chat GPT talk about powering their centers with nuclear in the future ... It opens up the potential for enormous amounts of expansion. It can reduce a lot of costs, especially capital costs of the startup, and I think that's the big draw here."
22:25 - DCF's Chernicoff asks, "Obviously, if I can plunk a microreactor down in the middle of my data center campus, I don't have to worry about transmitting power through the campus. Are there cost advantages in this? Is it something that the big power providers are looking at as a way to basically build a more distributed power grid?"
23:11 - Walker explains how a large mining company Nano Nuclear worked with did just that, and how use of nuclear energy can work to eliminate energy storage and transmission costs.
24:41 - Addressing nuclear NIMBY issues and PR concerns for builders of data centers.
25:40 - On the inherent safety of microreactors.
27:51 - Down to brass tacks on timeframes for microreactors and SMRs. DCF's Chernicoff asks, What are the obstacles to seeing them deployed within the next decade?
29:20 - On the work of Idaho National Labs in nuclear reactors.
31:03 - Taking it back to current events in closing: On NuScale's travails in 2023, Microsoft's SMR job posting raising hopes for a nuclear energy tipping point in the data center industry, etc.
 

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