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The Great Irony: Silicon Valley AI Dependent on Coal

The Great Irony: Silicon Valley AI Dependent on Coal

Apr 24, 2024

The Great Irony: Silicon Valley AI Dependent on Coal

A recent report by the Washington Post highlighted an irony in the tech industry's climate agenda: the reliance on coal to power an ever-growing number of data centers. These data centers in Northern Virginia, responsible for processing nearly 70 percent of global digital traffic, are being powered by electricity generated from coal plants.

The report indicates that massive data centers, vital for the operations of the internet and artificial intelligence, are consuming electricity at a pace that the power grid cannot sustain. This is necessitating the construction of new transmission lines across Virginia and neighboring states, as well as the continued operation of outdated coal-powered plants initially slated for decommissioning.

In the midst of this energy crisis, Silicon Valley and San Francisco's AI companies, despite their public commitment to renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power, are implicated in the increased demand for coal-generated electricity. This comes as a stark contrast to California's aggressive carbon reduction policies, which include Governor Gavin Newsom's mandate for 100 percent zero-emission vehicles by 2035.

This situation underscores a broader conflict between economic realities and climate policies. Despite the tech industry's public backing of green energy initiatives, its underlying infrastructure continues to operate on fossil fuels. This has led to accusations of hypocrisy, given that the same companies advocating for a carbon-neutral future are benefiting from the very energy sources they seek to abandon.

The juxtaposition is further compounded by the economic gains for local Virginia governments from the property taxes on the data centers. With Amazon Web Services planning a $35 billion data center expansion in the state, rural Virginia is becoming a hotbed for such developments, leading to significant tax revenues for localities.

While Northern Virginia has shifted towards a more liberal Democratic demographic, as evidenced by President Joe Biden's victory in the area during the 2020 presidential election, the economic influence of the tech industry's data centers appears to outweigh the region's renewable energy commitments.

Washington Post Report

The Epoch Times Article


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