AWS Acquiring Data Center Campus Powered by Nuclear Energy

AWS Acquiring Data Center Campus Powered by Nuclear Energy

The Susquehanna nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania has operated since 1983. Source: U.S. government

Darrell Proctor
March 4, 2024

Talen Energy Corp. said the company has sold its Cumulus data center campus, located near a Pennsylvania nuclear power station that provides the site with its power, to Amazon Web Services (AWS), according to a Talen investor presentation.

Talen owns the nuclear power plant, the 2.5-GW Susquehanna Steam Electric Station, in Luzerne County. Talen’s investor presentation on March 4 said it had a “Transformative Transaction with Amazon Web Services” for the 960-MW data center.

AWS on Monday in its own news release said the company in a separate deal will invest $5.3 billion in Saudi Arabia over the next few years, as the company creates an AWS infrastructure Region in that country that could open as soon as 2026. Prasad Kalyanaraman, vice president of Infrastructure Services at AWS, in a statement said the investment is part of the company’s support for Saudi Arabia’s digital transformation, and would utilize AWS cloud infrastructure to help meet the demand for cloud services across the Middle East.

$650 Million Deal

Monday’s investor presentation said Talen sold the site and assets of Cumulus Data for $650 million. The sale included all the land, power infrastructure, powered shell, and intangibles on the data center campus, according to the company.

“We are pleased today to have sold our Cumulus data center campus, unlocking significant value for Talen,” said Mac McFarland, Talen president and CEO. “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.”

The data center campus comprises 1,200 acres. The site also includes a cryptomine facility, operated by Talen and TeraWulf, a cryptocurrency group. Talen as part of the deal will supply AWS with electricity via a 10-year power purchase agreement with the Susquehanna plant, which has operated since 1983, originally by PPL. Susquehanna, located near Berwick, Pennsylvania, features two boiling water reactors.

AWS has minimum contractual power commitments for the data center that will ramp up in 120-MW increments over several years, with a one-time option to cap commitments to 480 MW. AWS will have two 10-year options to extend the agreement, with those options tied to renewals of the nuclear operating license for Susquehanna.

Talen Energy was founded in 2015 after the competitive power generation business of PPL was spun off, and then combined with the competitive generation businesses of Riverstone Holdings, a private equity firm. Talen than created Cumulus Growth in 2020, which includes Cumulus Data, a company focused on hyperscale data centers, and Cumulus Coin, which provides digital currency mining.

Saudi Arabia Investment

AWS said its investment in Saudi Arabia will feature three Availability Zones at its inception. The company currently has 105 Availability Zones across 33 geographic regions. The company said it plans to launch 18 more such zones, and encompass six more regions, in Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, and the AWS European Sovereign Cloud.

AWS data centers and cloud regions support company’s portfolio of cloud services and infrastructure.

“The new AWS Region will enable organizations to unlock the full potential of the cloud and build with AWS technologies like compute, storage, databases, analytics, and artificial intelligence, transforming the way businesses and institutions serve their customers,” Kalyanaraman said. “We look forward to helping Saudi Arabian institutions, startups, and enterprises deliver cloud-powered applications to accelerate growth, productivity, and innovation and spur job creation, skills training, and educational opportunities.”

Darrell Proctor is a senior associate editor for POWER (@POWERmagazine).

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