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Singapore to resume construction on new data centres following energy efficiency review

New data centres will need to be more resource efficient and existing ones may need to be retrofitted

A row of solar panels sat in front of the skyline of Singapore

Singapore is planning to lift a ban on the construction of new data centres across the state following the writing of new rules that place strict energy efficiency requirements on all new sites.

The government said that it will become more selective of which data centres it can accommodate, according to Singapore’s minister for Trade and Industry Gan Kim Yong.

The government plans to only authorise new data centres that are best in class in terms of resource efficiency, which can contribute towards the country’s economic and strategic objectives, Gan said in his written reply to a question on the subject. He also revealed the government will put in place measures to raise the efficiency of existing data centres over time.

In 2019, the government embarked on a review of the data centre industry, which was recently completed. The industry will now be consulted on the results of the review to seek its feedback, at which point the exact energy efficiency requirements will be released.

“This review was necessary because while DCs [date centres] are important enablers for the digital economy, they are also intensive users of resources, and we had to find a way to manage the growth of DCs in a sustainable manner consistent with our climate change commitments,” wrote Gan.

Gan also revealed that as of 2021, Singapore has over 70 operational data centres with a total available IT capacity of around 1,000 megawatts.

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In February 2021, former minister of trade Chan Chun Sing underlined that Singapore’s political stability and reliable infrastructure are conducive for operating data centres. However, he said that data centres are intensive users of water and electricity so the data centre ecosystem needed to be managed to ensure it’s environmentally sustainable, while supporting business needs.

Chan outlined that the government would strive for quality, not quantity, and that it would secure data centres that were best in class in terms of resource efficiency, and that push the boundaries of resource efficiency in a tropical climate.

He said that in the last five years, 14 data centres with a total IT capacity of 768 MW were approved for construction on industrial state land, a rapid increase compared to the 12 data centres with a capacity of 307 MW in the preceding five year period. This has led the government moderating the growth of data centres with a temporary pause on the release of state land for their construction and development.

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