Singapore data centre plan will ‘push boundaries’ for energy

Singapore data centre plan will ‘push boundaries’ for energy


Singapore can once again be considered a viable location for future data centres, after having been removed from consideration by many who began seeking alternatives according to Daryl Dunbar, partner at Internal Consulting Group (ICG).

Last week, the country’s government revealed plans to increase the power available for data centres in the country, freeing up 300MW for major players to use.

Dunbar believes that the move “will push the boundaries both in energy production and data centre efficiency” – both good things in his view.

“All the hyperscalers have announced plans for local (or 'edge’) data centers in other countries, closer to the customers.”

But is it just the hyperscalers that are going to be able to take advantage of this?

According to Dunbar, the players are those who won the last CFA, as well as other established players who did not such as Digital Realty, PDG and others. That does not rule out some of the new players, either.

“The hyperscale customers may find new opportunities for self-build,” he says.

“Investors may also benefit by speculating on sites and power, hoping to attract one of the above.”

Why the change of heart?

Singapore is the oldest and largest regional hub for data centres, yet according to Dunbar, the moratorium has put continued leadership at risk.

Dunbar points to the growth in Johor, both real (700MW) and projected (up to 11GW) as evidence that while Singapore has been a great place to host regional needs, the demand continues to grow and customers will explore other geographies to fill the need.

“Singapore risks losing out to neighbouring countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia,” he says.

Malaysia, he says, has been very open to welcoming data centres – as seen through the MDEC incentives – a new outcome-based tax incentive scheme offered to eligible companies that undertake activity utilising any of the Malaysia Digital (MD) tech enablers.

Batam has also emerged as another alternative, serving both as redundancy to Jakarta and proximate to Singapore.

The Phillippines enjoys an excellent geographical location and the potential for renewable energy, but Dunbar says there are still many headwinds.

“The 300MW may well include the 80MW already released during the previous CFA (it is rumoured that the power for the CFA does not yet exist; could be a production and/or transmission problem), he says.

“Singapore likes to lead the way, and this could be seen as an opportunity to lead the way in an area others have said is not possible.”

Going green

Singapore’s plan aims to accelerate the data centre’s use of green energy to expand capacity and explore how Singapore can deploy this at scale over time to maximise space for continued data centre growth.

For Dunbar, the use of green (renewable) energy is no longer a ‘nice to have’, but a ‘must have’.

“Singapore struggles to produce green energy - there is not enough space on the island, even if covered in solar panels to meet the need. The wind is not consistent. There is no hydro, no geothermal, etc. This is likely to be imported energy.”

“The push to make data centres more efficient is excellent and should be replicated in other parts of the world - it already has been in some.”

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