Huge Microsoft plant is draining tiny Arizona town of its water supply to power AI and cloud development – wit – Daily Mail

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  • Microsoft’s data center at Goodyear, Arizona, will use an estimate 56 million gallons of water a year when it’s completed
  • The desert town risks running out of water if they allow more centers to open 

Microsoft‘s massive new AI data center is using up a small Arizona desert town’s water supply and redacting its exact consumption from city documents.

The 279-acre campus in Goodyear will use an estimated 56 million gallons of water a year when it’s completed – as much as 670 families need for a year, according to a report in The Atlantic

The plant opened in 2021 with two buildings, and plans for a third, designed for use by Microsoft and the heavily Microsoft-funded OpenAI. 

Powering AI requires vast amounts of electricity, which in turn generates heat and requires water to cool servers down. 

Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes told The Atlantic: ‘We’re going to have to make tough choices in the near future to make sure our state is protected for future generations.’

The data center sits on a 279-acre site in the outskirts of the desert town Goodyear, Arizona

According to The Atlantic, it's designed primarily for use by OpenAI, which Microsoft funds heavily

The state has been tackling extreme weather, droughts and high temperatures over the last few years. 

Last summer was Phoenix’s hottest on record, with 55 days of temperatures over 110 degrees, stretching the grid to the max. 

It was compounded by the worse drought the region has faced in 1,000 years, with the Colorado River, which provides drinking water and hydropower, dwindling.  

High-demand factories and plants strain the water supply even further. 

Attorney General Kris Mayes told the Atlantic: ‘Allowing one more data center to come to our state is an easy but stupid decision in a lot of cases.’ 

Microsoft has refused to provide the exact figures on their Goodyear center’s water use, according to The Atlantic. 

They reportedly redacted exact figures in city records, saying it is ‘proprietary’ information. 

But they did provide an estimate, saying it will use 56 million gallons of water a year once the third building is completed. 

It is not just a problem in Arizona, researchers at UC Riverside estimated last year that global AI demand could cause data centers to use up to 1.7 trillion gallons of fresh water by 2027.

Microsoft say they are continually striving to improve the sustainability of their data centers and to be ‘good neighbors’.

Barbara Chappell, Goodyear’s water-services director, told the outlet that on the whole they aren’t concerned and have a good relationship with Microsoft. 

But one former Microsoft employee told The Atlantic that they were ‘being lazy’ and said there was much more they could do.  

DailyMail.com has contacted Microsoft for comment. 

AI and cloud computing data centers do not only pose a problem to water, they also demand huge volumes of electricity.

Recent figures suggest swaths of the US are at risk of power outages with artificial intelligence data centers and cryptocurrency mines doubling forecasted energy demand over the coming years. 

Without intervention, the already ailing national grid will be pushed to its limits by skyrocketing demand, driven by rapid innovations in AI, cryptocurrencies and clean energy initiatives all of which require vast amounts of power.

Speaking at Davos last year, OpenAI CEO, Sam Altman, said: ‘We still don’t appreciate the energy needs of this technology, there’s no way to get there without a breakthrough.’

The plant will consume as much water as 670 families each year

Projected demand for electricity over the next nine years has more than doubled from last year

Projections for electricity demand over the next nine years have more than doubled from 221,000 gigawatt hours last year to 564,000 gigawatt hours this year, according to the North American Electric Reliability Corp.

The rise is being driven largely by developments in AI, cloud computing and cryptocurrency mining all of which require large data centers which in turn consume vast amounts of power. 

The International Energy Agency (IEA) predicts that globally ‘electricity consumption from data centers, artificial intelligence (AI) and the cryptocurrency sector could double by 2026.’

By 2026, they say global data centers’ energy demand will equal that of the entirety of Japan. 

There are currently an estimated 2,700 data centers within the US according to the IEA, which sapped over four percent of the nation’s electricity in 2022. 

They predict that by 2026, their consumption will rise to six percent. 

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