Sam Altman Powers Up America With Clean Energy Startup Investment 

Sam Altman and venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz are betting on solar power and energy storage that can supply a low-carbon future to artificial intelligence data centers. Altman, the face of the AI chatbot boom, has also invested in nuclear power technology to fuel America’s powering up with clean, reliable energy. 

The Wall Street Journal reports that Altman and the private US venture capital firm are among the investors putting $20 million into Exowatt, a company that aims to solve the clean-energy needs of AI data centers. 

Exowatt declined to provide details about how its technology works. However, WSJ provided a brief understanding: 

Instead of solar panels arrayed across a field, Exowatt has developed modules roughly the size of shipping containers that contain solar lenses. The lenses convert energy from the sun into heat. That heat can then be used to warm up cheap, basic materials much like electricity heats up a toaster, allowing the modules to store energy for up to 24 hours a day.

The goal is to take advantage of the cost reductions from storing energy as heat. To produce electricity, the module passes the heat through an engine. Many other companies are working on different approaches to solar and low-cost heat batteries, but Exowatt says it is unique because it combines them in one unit.

The problem with solar power generation is that the sun only sometimes shines. For grid stability, solar and wind are fine, but nuclear power will have to be the primary reliable source of clean energy. We’ve been a bull on nuclear power (read: here) and recently showed readers how there’s a historic reversal underway in nuclear power in the US (read: here). 

Clearly, Altman understands this. He recently backed nuclear power startup Oklo and Helion. 

“Fundamentally today in the world, the two limiting commodities you see everywhere are intelligence, which we’re trying to work on with AI, and energy,” Altman told CNBC in 2021. 

It’s becoming clear that the aging US power grid won’t be able to support the surge in AI data centers and the electrification of the economy. In “The Next AI Trade,” we outlined investment opportunities for powering up America. 

Meanwhile, the upfront costs of upgrading the nation’s power grid are sparking out-of-control power bill costs for households, as many folks have trouble paying monthly bills.  


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