A nuclear-powered data center campus in Surry, Virginia, has moved a step closer to fruition after planners approved the rezoning of the site.

Green Energy Partners (GEP) plans to build the campus, the first of its type in the US, adjacent to the 1.6GW Surry Nuclear Power Plant, which is operated by Dominion Energy.

GEP acquired the 641-acre site last year, and says it will spend $6.45bn building out the campus over the next 13 years, creating up to 3,000 jobs.

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GEP's Surry Green Energy Center – Green Energy Partners

Surry County supervisors voted 3-2 to approve rezoning of the site at a meeting on February 8.

“The rezoning passage by the Surry board last Thursday was a huge win for the community and the Green Energy Surry Center project,” said Bill Puckett, Green Energy’s chief operating officer, in comments reported by the Smithfield Times.

As well as hosting 19 data centers, GEP says the site, which will be known as the Surry Green Energy Center (SGEC), will eventually be used to develop four to six small modular nuclear reactors, miniature versions of the reactors in the power station that are capable of generating up to 250MW each. It is hoped these can be used to power the data centers, as well as production plants generating hydrogen that can be used as a backup energy source for Virginia’s grid.

The data centers on the site will initially be powered from existing grid resources, with the revenue they generate then used to develop the small modular reactors. However, these are not likely to be up and running for 10-15 years.

GEP has formed a joint venture with nuclear power provider IP3 to develop the site. IP3 will handle the project development, financial structuring, and funding solutions for the project using a phased approach. Construction work on the data centers could start later this year.

North Virginia is the world’s largest data center market, but the number of developments planned for the region - and the strain these are putting on the power grid - is causing developers to look to other parts of the state, such as Surry.

GEP isn’t the only provider looking to set up a data center in close proximity to one of Virginia’s nuclear plants. Amazon announced last year that it plans to build a 1.7 million sq ft (157,935 sqm) campus in Louisa County, near the 1.79GW North Anna Nuclear Plant.