Microsoft seeks manager to develop SMRs to power its data centres

3 October 2023

Satya Nadella, Chairman and CEO of Microsoft says the company is looking for a Principal Program Manager, Nuclear Technology, who will be responsible for maturing and implementing a global Small Modular Reactor (SMR) and microreactor energy strategy.

“The next major wave of computing is being born, as the Microsoft Cloud turns the world’s most advanced AI models into a new computing platform,” he said. “We are committed to helping our customers use our platforms and tools to do more with less today and innovate for the future in the new era of AI [artificial intelligence].”

The position is tasked with leading the technical assessment for the integration of SMRs and microreactors to power the data centres that the Microsoft Cloud and AI reside on. The manager “will maintain a clear and adaptable roadmap for the technology’s integration, diligently select and manage technology partners and solutions, and constantly evaluate the business implications of progress and implementation”, Microsoft noted.

The ideal candidate will have experience in the energy industry and a deep understanding of nuclear technologies and regulatory affairs. The role “will also be responsible for research and developing other precommercial energy technologies”. The manager “must be able to identify and partner with other groups to achieve joint or complimentary goals”. A proven track record of successfully managing projects, driving contractual improvements through service agreements and lower cost “are skillsets needed to be demonstrated, resulting in measurable impact to be successful in this role”.

Requirements include a bachelor’s degree and more than six years' experience in nuclear industry, engineering, energy market, or related roles or equivalent experience. Microsoft says the typical base pay range for this role across the US is $133,600 - $256,800 a year.

In January, Microsoft announced a multiyear, multibillion-dollar investment in OpenAI. Microsoft’s co-founder Bill Gates is also Chairman of the board of TerraPower, a nuclear innovation company in the process of developing and scaling various SMR designs. However, TerraPower “does not currently have any agreements to sell reactors to Microsoft,” a spokesperson told CNBC.

In 2022, Microsoft procured Clean Energy Credits (CECs) from Canada’s Ontario Power Generation (OPG) to power its data centres. The credits include power from traditional nuclear sources, but could expand to include CECs from OPG’s planned future deployment of SMRs.

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