AWS Eyes 960 MW for Newly Acquired Nuclear Power Data Center in Pennsylvania

March 6, 2024
The 1200-acre data center campus, co-located with a nuclear plant in Salem Township, PA and purchased from Cumulus, is set to be built out in stages with potential 30-year power commitments.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) hasn’t spoken up yet, but in an investor presentation Talen Energy Corporation, the primary operator of the  Susquehanna Steam Electric Station, a nuclear power generation plant in Salem Township, Pennsylvania, AWS was identified as the purchaser of the Cumulus data center campus, collocated with the nuclear power plant.

The former Cumulus Data campus will be sold for $650 million.

According to the presentation, AWS is to develop up to 960 MW for the data center campus, with minimum contracted power that ramps up in 120 MW increments over several years. 

Should AWS deem that the maximum power isn’t required, they have a one-time option to cap their power contract at 480 MW.

Each incremental step-up has a fixed price for the initial ten-year term. The contract includes two 10-year extension options for AWS that are tied to the renewal of the power plants generation license from the NRC.

The announcement, from Talen President and Chief Executive Officer Mac McFarland, stated:

"We are pleased today to have sold our Cumulus data center campus, unlocking significant value for Talen. This transaction provides an attractive return on Talen's investment and vision in building Cumulus, and creates value through the sale of clean carbon-free power from our top decile Susquehanna nuclear plant." 

Currently, the two-unit nuclear power plant, commissioned in 1982 and 1984, which has a nameplate generation capacity of just over 2.5 GW, is licensed for operation through 2042 (Unit 1) and 2044 (Unit 2).

Perhaps more importantly, the facility is fully fuel-contracted through its 2025 outage, and substantially through its 2028 outage (an outage is the term used to describe a scheduled shutdown of a reactor for annual maintenance and refueling).

This is important due to the lack of US production for nuclear fuel and where that fuel is currently produced.

There is currently only a single private company in the US, Centrus, along with two European governmental programs that enrich uranium for use as nuclear fuel. Centrus was created when the US government looked to privatize enrichment technologies from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Currently, Russia controls almost half the world’s enriched uranium market. An obvious problem given current relations between the US and Russia.

The data center campus is directly connected to the nuclear facility and, as such, is zero-carbon for power supply.

Four substations are available with up to 960 MW potential redundant capacity, with 240 MW of that capacity expected to be fully developed in 2024.

Up to 300 MW of that power capacity is currently contracted to Terawulf Nautilus Cryptomine, which has decided to exercise an existing contract option to add 50 MW of capacity, doubling its current demand, when it comes online in 2025.

Almost a year ago, Cumulus had announced that they had completed the shell for a 300,000 sq ft, 48 MW data center on the site.

The Terawulf facility is also on-site and operational and is a joint operation between Terawulf and the current owner of the campus, Talen Energy Corporation.

 

 

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About the Author

David Chernicoff

David Chernicoff is an experienced technologist and editorial content creator with the ability to see the connections between technology and business while figuring out how to get the most from both and to explain the needs of business to IT and IT to business.

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