Singapore opens its third desalination plant in Tuas

Singapore opens its third desalination plant in Tuas

Singapore on Thursday (Jun 28) opened its third desalination plant, boosting the country’s desalination capacity from 100 to 130 million gallons a day. Vanessa Lim reports.

SINGAPORE: Singapore on Thursday (Jun 28) opened its third desalination plant, boosting the country’s desalination capacity from 100 to 130 million gallons a day (mgd).

The Tuas Desalination Plant, which can produce 30 million gallons of drinking water a day, will help to meet up to 30 per cent of Singapore’s current water demand.

Spanning just 3.5ha - the size of three rugby fields - Tuas Desalination Plant is the country’s smallest plant to date. 

Tuas Desalination Plant 2
A model of the Tuas Desalination Plant. (Photo: Vanessa Lim)

Despite its size, the plant can produce the same amount of drinking water as SingSpring Desalination Plant, Singapore’s first such plant. 

SingSpring occupies 6.3ha, nearly double the footprint of Tuas Desalination Plant.

Both plants can produce up to 30mgd of drinking water, which is enough to supply to 200,000 households.

The first to be owned and operated by PUB, the Tuas plant will also be used to test new energy-saving technologies.

The plant is also the first in Singapore to adopt an advanced pre-treatment technology, which combines two existing filtration methods – dissolved air floatation and ultrafiltration. 

Tuas Desalination Plant 3
Reverse osmosis membranes for seawater desalination. (Photo: Vanessa Lim)

This will help to reduce membrane fouling when treating seawater of varying water quality, as well as to prolong the lifespan of a membrane.

To reduce the plant's carbon footprint, a 1.2MWp solar photovoltaic (PV) system will be installed on more than half of the plant’s roof surface by the end of the year.

Covering more than 7,000 sq m, the solar PV system will be able to generate 1.4 million kWh of clean energy a year, which will be used to power the plant’s administrative building.

With Singapore’s water demand projected to double from the current 430mgd by 2060, two more desalination plants are in the pipeline. 

Slated to be completed in 2020, Marina East Desalination Plant and a fifth desalination plant at Jurong Island will bring the total daily water production in Singapore to 190mgd in two years’ time.

INVESTMENTS IN WATER NETWORK "HEAVY BUT NECESSARY": MASAGOS

Speaking at the opening of the plant, Minister for Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli pointed out the need for Singapore to continually expand and enhance its water supply network. 

He cited examples of cities like Cape Town in South Africa and Sao Paulo in Brazil. In Sao Paulo, a severe drought had caused the stock level of its main reservoir fall below 4 per cent, and its 21 million inhabitants had at one point less than 20 days of water. 

“We are laying more pipes to reach the population and industries in new growth nodes while maintaining and renewing existing water infrastructure,” said Mr Masagos. 

He added that all these are “heavy, but necessary investments”, and take time. These investments must also be made ahead of time and demand, so Singaporeans will not face the same problems as Sao Paulo and Cape Town, the minister said. 

“This is made possible by right-pricing water to reflect the long-run marginal cost of producing our next drop of water, which is likely to come from NEWater and desalinated water.” 

Source: CNA/ad(cy)

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