Singapore aims to expand data center capacity 35% by green strategies


Singapore ranks among the world's largest data hubs, hosting more than 70 data centers. (Image: Singapre's Green Data Centre Roadmap)

Singapore is planning to expand its data center capacity by more than one-third, aiming to integrate greener facilities to achieve sustainable growth in the energy-intensive industry, according to a state minister overseeing a new roadmap.

Singapore hosts over 70 data centers, making it one of the world's largest hubs. However, environmental concerns over heavy energy and water use previously led the country to restrict the construction of new centers, prompting some operators to build in neighboring countries like Malaysia and Indonesia.

The new roadmap, released by the government on May 30, indicates that Singapore will build more data centers while balancing digital industry growth with decarbonization efforts.

"We want to continue to be a significant player in the data center space for the region and the world," Janil Puthucheary, senior minister of state at the Ministry of Communications and Information, told Nikkei Asia. "Our industry partners also value this."

Singapore aims to allocate at least 300 MW of additional capacity "in the near term," with potentially another 200 MW or more powered by green energy, said Puthucheary. This additional 500 MW represents an increase of around 35% from the current national capacity of over 1.4 GW.

Puthucheary did not provide a timeline for the allocation or specify whether further expansions would follow once the target is met. "A lot of this will depend on the progress of the energy transition, so this is frankly an exploratory process," he said. "As we take this step, we will learn about what's possible, what the businesses can do, and what the energy providers can provide."

Janil Puthucheary (Right-center speaker), senior minister of state at the Ministry of Communications and Information, attended AI Global Forum on May 22. (Photo: Janil Puthucheary's Facebook)

To ensure the construction of environmentally friendly data centers, the government will seek plans for energy-efficient facilities incorporating the latest cooling solutions and equipment, as well as proposals featuring partnerships with low-carbon energy providers.

Although data centers are crucial to the digital economy, meeting growing demand sustainably is a "very serious" issue, especially as Singapore aims for net zero carbon emissions by 2050. The city-state suspended new data center construction in 2019 to moderate growth.

"Because of our size and constraints, we face this question earlier than others," Puthucheary said. "But this is something everybody will have to grapple with eventually."

In 2022, Singapore ended the moratorium and invited applications to build new facilities with higher environmental standards. Despite over 20 applications, only four proposals were awarded a total capacity of 80 MW, which some operators argue is insufficient to meet growing digital demand.

While Singapore is "not a natural place" for data centers due to higher land, energy, and personnel costs, Puthucheary noted that many multinational companies and operators continue to seek a presence in the country amid growing demand for computing resources, including for artificial intelligence.

Source: Nikkei AsiaIMDA

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