Singapore is one of the smallest countries in the world, yet it is the leading hub in the ASEAN region with more data center capacity than any other country.
The ‘Little Red Dot’ consumes more electricity per person than any other country in Southeast Asia with 7% of this coming from data centers.
With accessibility to more advanced technology and internet-connected devices, this energy consumption and demand on data centers is only going to rise.
Singapore established a Green Data Centre Standard with the aim of encouraging organisations to improve the energy efficiency of their centres. Firms including Equinix, IBM, Keppel Data Centers and Resorts World Sentosa have all achieved a SS 564 certification for their effort to meet the green standards.
The Singapore carbon tax imposed in 2019 to reduce the country’s environmental impact by setting a rate of $5 for every tonne of greenhouse gas emissions is also expected to put pressure on data centres to become more efficient.
The challenges to improve efficiency have led to new innovations with the increasing need for space-saving data centers and sustainable technologies.
The future of energy efficiency is a floating data center?
Keppel Data Centres, a data center provider in Singapore, announced plans to develop a floating data center park off the coast of the ‘Garden City’. The conglomerate aims to self-power the floating data centre park and take advantage of the surrounding water to cool the park. Keppel believes a modular approach to build floating data centers, coupled with sustainable usage of natural resources, will reduce its carbon footprint compared to land-based data centers.
In partnership with the Faculty of Engineering at the National University of Singapore and Singapore LNG Corporation, Keppel Data Centres is also developing new prototypes to cool data centers and reduce their carbon footprint by harnessing cold energy released from the LNG regasification process.
Harnessing the power of solar energy
Facebook started using solar energy to power its Singapore data center after signing a 20-year deal with Sembcorb in 2019, forming Facebook’s first renewable energy partnership in Asia.
The social media organisation’s Head of Global Energy, Bobby Hollis, said: “This agreement represents our first step towards supporting our Singapore data center and local offices with 100% renewable energy.”
Singapore’s hot and humid climate causes greater power consumption for data centers. To avoid this problem, Facebook’s huge 170,000 square-meter data center implements a liquid cooling system using air from outside the complex to chill the water needed to cool the equipment.
Data centers reaching for the sky
To save space in the ‘Little Red Dot’, many data centers are building upwards.
Equinix recently opened its fourth data center in Singapore known as SG4. The new build is seven storeys high and will house 4,000 cabinets once it is fully complete.
Equinix implements a number of methods to achieve its long-term goal of using 100% renewable resources like recycled rainwater, solar power and artificial intelligence to identify improvements.
In 2011, Google looked to make sure internet users in Asia had fast and reliable access to their services by building its first Asian data center in Singapore.
The tech giant was inspired to try something different by building a data center up rather than out to create their first multi-storey data center in 2013.
Since then, Google is planning to open its third data center, which will use recycled water to cool the systems and machine learning technology to increase energy efficiency.
The future of sustainable data centers in Singapore
The Singaporean Government is committed to achieving sustainability and energy efficiency. In the country’s Sustainable Development Goals, Singapore aims to increase solar energy usage and ensure at least 80% of its buildings will be green by 2030.
Much like the carbon tax, data center organisations should remain aware of future regulations and green policies to avoid costly penalties or even being shut down in extreme cases. Data centers should also investigate new technologies to achieve efficiency, meet standards, gain certification and build a respectable reputation as being part of the climate change solution.