Deep Dive: The Demand Disconnect

Computing's massive demand, our current supply pipeline, and NERC's reliability concerncs

Deep Dive: The Demand Disconnect

A little over a week ago, Sam Altman, the founder of OpenAI, candidly told a Davos audience that in order to handle the oncoming power demand for computation, we need some kind of power breakthrough. He seems technologically agnostic about what that may mean, though he did say he wishes the world was more pro-nuclear.

Altman’s right on more than one count. AI computation and activities like Bitcoin mining are as power hungry as it gets. America is looking at a sustained increase in power demand for the next few years. “From 2024 to 2026, we expect a return to growth in electricity demand of 1.5% on average, fuelled by increased manufacturing activity and electrification in the transportation and building sectors,” observed the International Energy Agency in its latest annual electricity report.

“Around one-third of the additional demand out to 2026 is expected to come from the rapidly growing data centre sector alone,” the report added (emphasis mine).

But what can Americans expect to fulfill this demand boom? And what does the North American Electric Reliability Corp. have to say about inbound reliability issues?

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