Nuclear for Me but Not for Thee
Bill Gates has been investing in SMR nuclear technology, but for what ends: to benefit society or to power data centers?
The future is coming, even if we’re not ready for it. Here in the West, our sacrosanct narrative is the need for a grand energy transition. Peak oil isn’t a real thing, but we have to act like it is anyways. The push for “decarbonized” energy is having nasty effects on civilian power grids, leaving us with unstable and expensive electric bills as fossil fuel and nuclear plants are shuttered and their capacity is not refilled — despite promises from environmentalists – with “renewable” sources like wind and solar.
Nuclear power in Western countries, despite its status as a zero carbon emission source is being shut down, while the ability to build new facilities is hamstrung by overregulation, making it completely unaffordable, and therefore impossible to build large, new civilian-serving nuclear power plants.
The lack of new energy, active shutdown of existing plants, plus the increasing demand for energy consumption – cloud data storage and computing, electric vehicles, and “artificial intelligence” – are creating a slow motion disaster in the making. But the most powerful entities in the West – no, not the government, but the billionaire oligarchs, certainly won’t allow slow motion disasters to affect them. That’s why Bill Gates has spent the past decade investing in new nuclear technology called Small Modular Reactors.
Energy for data, none for food and heat.
With grids around the world struggling, power availability has become a critical bottleneck for data center builders… The lack of clean power is even more of a challenge as data center companies try to shift to renewable sources.
Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) are different from traditional, large nuclear plants. They usually produce less than a third of the amount of energy, but they don’t have to be built near a body of water because they use molten salt, rather than water to cool down. They can also be less integrated to large centralized grids that serve entire regions. It’s easy to see why oligarchs like Gates are drawn to this technology: cutting edge power technology without having to integrate with the common folk. Kind of like a private jet vs a commercial airliner.
Powering the 4th industrial revolution
Bill Gates, personally, can afford any kind of electricity he wants – artisanal, intermittent wind and solar, just as nature intended. But his data cannot. The Fourth Industrial Revolution, as Klaus Schwab calls it, will require massive amounts of energy and computational power for “an Internet of Things.”
Already, artificial intelligence is all around us, from self-driving cars and drones to virtual assistants and software that translate or invest. Impressive progress has been made in AI in recent years, driven by exponential increases in computing power and by the availability of vast amounts of data, from software used to discover new drugs to algorithms used to predict our cultural interests.
It’s clear that Gates is preparing for the revolution:
Microsoft’s move into nuclear technology suggests a future where tech companies with significant cloud businesses may need to become nuclear power developers to sustain their growth. The race is on to replace traditional power sources with microreactors reliable enough to keep data centers secure in case of public grid failure.
If it isn’t clear already, the message here is that as a society we must prioritize data centers over public wellbeing; a message that is broadcast when we take a look at the double standard when dealing with our mission dictated from on high: “decarbonization.”
Clean for them, Dirty for us
Microsoft is getting Clean Energy Credits for their SMR plants while civilian energy plants are being shut down, being labeled as “dirty energy.”
In 2022 Microsoft successfully lobbied the Ontario for Clean Energy Credits to build SMRs that will power data centers.
Microsoft has signed a new energy deal with Canadian energy firm Ontario Power Generation (OPG) to procure renewable energy, including nuclear sources.
The deal will see Microsoft procure Clean Energy Credits (CECs) sourced from OPG’s carbon-free hydro and nuclear assets in Ontario on an hourly basis, allowing it to match its actual energy usage. The technology company will also look to procure energy credits from an upcoming Small Nuclear Reactor (SMR) deployment OPG is planning.
In June 2021, Bill Gates (TerraPower) and Warren Buffett (Pacifi Corp) announced plans to build a joint Natrium reactor. The same year, an NGO called Indigenous Climate Action published a report called Decolonizing Climate Policy in Canada in which they specifically criticize proposed SMR technology by the Canadian federal government. The ICA report states that:
Though some policymakers and organizations promote nuclear energy as a solution to climate change, nuclear is expensive, dangerous, and pollutive.
On the webpage of Canada’s Small Modular Reactor Action Plan, it states that “Innovation in the nuclear sector plays a critical role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and delivering good, middle-class jobs as Canada moves toward a low-carbon future.” The [Canadian policy plan] specifies that “the Government of Canada intends to work with interested parties to advance this important work, including Indigenous communities and organizations.”
The report goes on to claim that the plan “ignores the disproportionate and devastating impacts the energy sources they promote have had and continue to have on Indigenous Peoples.” They flat out claim nuclear energy to be a “false solution.”
ICA has a long list of “Sustainers” on their website, which they define as “people who have donated to our work and decided to make a multi-year commitment as part of showing their loyalty to the vision of ICA.” NoVo Foundation, a philanthropy financed by Berkshire Hathaway stock dividends and run by Warren Buffett’s son Peter, is listed as a “Sustainer” on ICA’s website.
This essentially means that Warren Buffett is funding the public image of nuclear energy as “dirty” while his energy investment partner Bill Gates is collecting tax credits from governments who now consider it “clean.” Nuclear is clean when it’s used for AI data centers, but dirty when it’s keeping grandma’s lights on.
Are SMRs bad?
Despite how it’s being leveraged by Gates, SMRs are still a net good. The fact that they are modular and can be installed in remote and rural locations without being dependent on large bodies of water for cooling is a gamechanger for economically downtrodden areas of the country. Instead of powering Gates’ computing empire, SMRs could revive industrial power in rural America.
And despite what well-funded environmental NGOs say, SMRs and other nuclear technologies can be a huge benefit for indigenous communities. Just yesterday, the North Shore Mi'kmaq District Council announced a new partnership between First Nations and two Canadian SMR technology companies Moltex Energy Canada Inc. and ARC Clean Technology Canada, Inc.
Powerful, abundant, reliable and clean energy is at our fingertips in the form of nuclear energy. It’s up to us to make sure we can benefit from this technology on a civilizational level, and not let it be hoarded for a few 4th Industrial Revolutionists.
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