OpenAI's Sam Altman invests $20 million in a green energy startup, but will it satisfy ChatGPT's power-hungry demands?

Sam Altman
(Image credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images)

What you need to know

  • Sam Altman and several other AI investors have reportedly invested $20 million in a green energy startup called Exowatt.
  • The investment is in place to help potentially present an opportunity where AI companies can leverage renewable energy, amid concerns of insufficient power to facilitate AI advances. 
  • While this promotes sustainability, AI still faces multiple challenges that prevent it from realizing its full potential, including high demand for cooling water and operational costs.

Every major tech-based company is rushing to claim its stake in the generative AI wave. Admittedly, many technological advances have been achieved through it over the past few months across medicine, education, computing, and more. However, the cutting-edge technology is riddled by several challenges.

Billionaire Elon Musk recently indicated that we're on the verge of the biggest technological revolution with AI, but there won't be enough power to foster its advances and development by 2025. This aligns with a report from last year that indicated Copilot AI and ChatGPT will have consumed enough electricity to power a small country for a whole year by 2027.  

But as it now seems, OpenAI's Sam Altman is on the precipice of potentially resolving this issue, his answer to the technology's high power demand — green energy. According to a report by The Wall Street Journal, Altman and investors in the AI landscape are actively seeking refuge in green energy startups like Exowatt.

OpenAI's CEO has partnered with several other investors and injected approximately $20 million into Exowatt. The investment is an indication AI is here for the long haul. While the green energy startup might not completely substitute or replace AI's high demand for electricity, it's a step in the right direction and promotes sustainability.

Exowatt renews OpenAI's hopes for the future with AI

Power is a big issue in the AI race.  (Image credit: Kevin Okemwa | Windows Central)

As highlighted, Exowatt is a green energy startup company specializing in renewable energy and seeks to supply AI companies like OpenAI or even Microsoft with modular solar systems with the capability of providing enough energy to satisfy their power needs. 

If Exowatt is capable of fully satisfying these needs, it'll not only allow OpenAI to fully transition to renewable energy for its AI advances but also help it save on cost and avoid regulatory issues with antitrust watchdogs. 

Unfortunately, power isn't the only challenging affecting AI

All the major players in the AI race have the same troubles.  (Image credit: Windows Central)

Power is the main issue preventing the rapid adoption and growth of AI. However, it is also riddled with several other challenges that require elaborate measures and interventions.

Right off the bat, AI-powered chatbots like ChatGPT and Microsoft Copilot already consume an insane amount of water for cooling — at least one water bottle per query. It also costs an arm and leg to keep these chatbots running with a report indicating OpenAI parts with up to $700,000 per day to keep ChatGPT running, and this figure may have gone up. 

This is on top of the lawsuits the hot startup has been slapped with over the past few  months, from copyright infringement issues to a 'stark betrayal of the founding mission.' Reports indicate AI will become smarter than humans, leading to the end of humanity. But hey, Elon Musk says there's a 20% chance this will happen, so you should probably continue exploring it.

Kevin Okemwa

Kevin Okemwa is a seasoned tech journalist based in Nairobi, Kenya with lots of experience covering the latest trends and developments in the industry. With a passion for innovation and a keen eye for detail, he has written for leading publications such as OnMSFT, MakeUseOf, and Windows Report, providing insightful analysis and breaking news on everything revolving around the Microsoft ecosystem. While AFK and not busy following the ever-emerging trends in tech, you can find him exploring the world or listening to music.