Singapore earmarks 300MW for data centres

In a dramatic change of gears, Singapore is throwing open the doors to data centres again.

Singapore earmarks 300MW for data centres
Photo Credit: Unsplash/Wallace Heng

In a dramatic change of gears, Singapore is throwing open the doors to data centres again with an initial tranche of 300MW of capacity.

For years, Singapore had been reticent about releasing more data centre capacity. That changed this morning.

Data centre hub

Singapore had held the position of a data centre hub for a long time. However, climate concerns meant that it had to dial back on its data centres.

Since the latter half of 2019:

  • A 3-year data centre moratorium.
  • DC-CFA added 80MW capacity in 2023.
  • 2nd DC-CFA expected to happen in 2024.

And that's about it - at a time where most other nations are building new data centres at a frenetic pace, and typically on a scale of 100MW or more per data centre.

This had led some to warn that Singapore could lose its pole position.

In the meantime, Johor has emerged as the largest data centre market in Southeast Asia. Separately, I've also asked if data centre specialists will wither in this protracted drought.

Then everything changed.

The reversal

This morning, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat during his keynote at ATxSummit announced that Singapore will add 300MW of data centre capacity.

In context, Singapore has around 1,000MW of operational data centres today. So this is an earth-shaking amount. Crucially, this will be added "in the near term".

Th 300MW will come as part of a new Green DC Roadmap, so it does come with some strings attached.

When I pressed for details, I got redirected to the Roadmap, which talks about things such as:

  • Technologies to maximise efficieny, compute.
  • Getting end-users to switch to efficient IT equipment.
  • Efforts to improve efficiency at hardware, software level.

When I enquired, IMDA emphasised that this capacity will be available to both new and existing data centres. This means there is now an incentive for existing data centres to retrofit (caveats apply).

This will be allocated through processes like DC-CFAs.

Much more to come

What struck me was how the announcement alluded to the potential for "much more" capacity to be allocated through green energy deployments.

So there is a chance for even more data centres in the future. A lot more.

At an invite-only panel discussion at ATxSummit, Senior Minister for State Janil Puthucheary shed some light into the government's thinking.

  • Take digital sustainability as an opportunity.
  • S'pore went from one of the most water stressed.
  • ... to having a significant amount of water resilience.

Why not for data centres?

Ultimately, there is no magic wand, but progress can be made by adopting a long view and building the right partnerships and ecosystem to support sustainable data centres.