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Singapore officially opens fifth desalination plant

SINGAPORE — Singapore on Sunday (April 17) officially opened the country’s fifth desalination plant, which is about 5 per cent more energy efficient than conventional desalination plants.

An aerial view of the Jurong Island Desalination Plant.

An aerial view of the Jurong Island Desalination Plant.

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SINGAPORE — Singapore on Sunday (April 17) officially opened the country’s fifth desalination plant, which is about 5 per cent more energy efficient than conventional desalination plants.
 
Due to its co-location with an existing power plant, the Jurong Island Desalination Plant can save about 5,000 megawatt hours per year, equivalent to the annual power needs of nearly 1,000 Housing and Development Board households.
 
The new facility, which has been operational since earlier this month, was officially opened by Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat and Minister for Sustainability and the Environment Grace Fu on Sunday. 

The 3.7-hectare plant can produce up to 30 million gallons of fresh drinking water per day, equivalent to 55 Olympic-sized swimming pools of water or up to 7 per cent of Singapore’s daily water demand.
 
Constructed under the Design, Build, Own and Operate model, the Jurong Island Desalination Plant will be operated by a consortium formed by Tuas Power and ST Engineering for a 25-year period. The consortium was picked as preferred bidder for the project in 2017.
 
The new desalination plant is co-located with Tuas Power’s Tembusu Multi-Utilities Complex (TMUC), which has been up and running since 2013 and houses a power plant.

Being located in close proximity and integrated with TMUC’s power plant allows the new desalination plant to “derive synergies in resources”, such as sharing of sea water intake and outfall structures, as well as energy from in-plant generational facilities, said PUB and the consortium.

For example, the feedwater for the Jurong Island Desalination Plant comes from the sea water that the power plant uses for cooling purposes. The warm sea water is then channeled to the desalination plant where the process of water treatment begins.

This helps to provide “slightly cleaner feedwater” as there is a basic level of filtration at the point the sea water enters TMUC. The Jurong Island Desalination Plant also enjoys reduced pumping cost for sea water as a result, said Tuas Power president and chief executive Jiang Hanbin in a speech delivered at the opening ceremony. 

Another energy-saving aspect comes from how the power required for the new desalination plant is drawn from the embedded generator in the power plant, explained Tuas Power’s Mr Tan Chek Jiang, who is the plant manager for the Jurong Island Desalination Plant. This helps to save on network charges, thereby reducing the plant’s operating costs.

Apart from being one of the more energy efficient plants in Singapore, the Jurong Island Desalination Plant is also equipped with the latest proven water-treatment equipment and membrane technologies, such as dissolved air flotation, ultra-filtration and reverse osmosis. Given how it is highly automated, it needs just a three-man team to run the entire plant’s operations from a control room.

MAKING DESALINATION MORE ENERGY-EFFICIENT

Construction for the Jurong Island Desalination Plant began in 2018. The plant was initially slated to open in 2020 but faced delays due to the Covid-19 pandemic which brought about global shortages of materials and resources. Border restrictions and safe management measures also threw up difficulties for the plant’s completion.
 
The country’s four other desalination plants are the SingSpring Desalination Plant, Tuas South Desalination Plant, Tuas Desalination Plant and the Keppel Marina East Desalination Plant, which began operations in 2005, 2013, 2018 and 2020 respectively.
 
While the completion of the Jurong Island Desalination Plant marks another key milestone in Singapore’s water journey, DPM Heng stressed that the country must not lose sight of the fact that water security does not come easily.

“We may not feel it in our everyday lives, because we no longer have water rationing like in the 1960s, and clean water flows readily from our taps. But this did not happen by chance – it required sustained commitment of resources, and a strong focus on research and development,” he said.

“I am confident that we will continue to find new ways to increase the efficiency of our water supply, even as we enhance our water resilience,” added Mr Heng. “But to ensure that we have true water security, we also cannot just focus on the supply side of the equation.”

Singapore currently consumes about 430 million gallons of water a day – enough to fill 782 Olympic-sized swimming pools – with the industrial sector accounting for more than half of this demand.

Authorities have said that water demand is set to nearly double by 2060. CNA

For more reports like this, visit cna.asia.

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