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  • Marijan Hassan - Tech Journalist

OpenAI plans power deal with Altman's nuclear fusion startup

OpenAI is reportedly in negotiations for a future energy deal with Helion, a nuclear fusion startup chaired by Sam Altman. The OpenAI CEO has a $375 million stake in Helion.

Nuclear fusion is a clean energy technology with the potential to generate vast amounts of power by mimicking the reactions that power stars. While still under development, fusion energy is seen as a potential solution to the ever-growing energy demands of large data centers that house AI systems.

The details of the potential deal are not public, but reports suggest OpenAI is interested in purchasing "vast quantities" of clean energy from Helion to power its operations. This could be a significant boost for Helion, which is aiming to be the first company to achieve commercially viable nuclear fusion.

According to the Wall Street Journal report, Altman has recused himself from the negotiations due to the potential conflict of interest.

Getting OpenAI as a customer would be a major boost in Helion’s plans to build practical useful fusion power plants using technology that's still under development. Whatever deal the two parties agree to mean more research and development funds for the company.

Some experts point out that OpenAI doesn't currently own data centers and its main AI systems run on Microsoft Azure servers. However, there’ve been rumors that OpenAI and Microsoft are collaborating on a massive $100 billion AI supercomputer that will consume a staggering five gigawatts of power.

The project dubbed "Stargate"could be a target for this future clean energy. It is expected to launch in 2028, the same year that Microsoft, Helion's first customer, is supposed to start getting power from the upstart. Coincidence?

While Microsoft's deal concerns a 50 megawatt power plant, perhaps Helion aims to have more capacity than just that, and wants to sell its energy supply to OpenAI, which would need lots of power if it wants to build a few more supercomputers of its own.


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