Saturday 21 September 2013

Tuaspring Desalination Plant: Another milestone as Singapore's second and largest desalination plant opens, 18 September 2013

By Grace Chua, The Straits Times, 19 Sep 2013

SINGAPORE'S second and largest desalination plant was opened yesterday, more than tripling the nation's capacity to turn seawater into fresh water to meet up to a quarter of its total demand.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who opened the Tuaspring Desalination Plant at Singapore's far south-western edge, called it the latest milestone in the city state's decades-long water journey.

At its start, people queued for water and lacked basic sanitation, he noted.

But pricing water right, working with academia and industry to develop water infrastructure, and having national agency PUB manage the entire water cycle from supply to recycling, have given Singapore a clean, reliable supply of water.

"What was once our strategic weakness is now a source of thought leadership and competitive advantage," he added.

Singapore plans to extend a deep tunnel sewerage system to the west to reuse more of its wastewater, and to have NEWater and desalination meet up to 70 per cent of demand by 2030.

Tuaspring, like its neighbour SingSpring, is designed, owned, built and operated by Singapore-listed water firm Hyflux.

It can supply up to 70 million gallons of water a day, while SingSpring, which opened in 2005, can supply up to 30 million.

Singapore uses 400 million gallons of water a day, but that could nearly double by 2060. By then, it aims to have NEWater and desalination meet up to 80 per cent of demand.

Water agency PUB has a 25-year agreement to buy desalinated water from Tuaspring, starting at 45 cents a cubic metre for the first year.

The $1.05 billion Tuaspring also has an attached power plant fuelled by liquefied natural gas, to provide a secure energy supply for desalination operations.

This makes it the first water project here to be combined with energy generation.

This will ensure that "Tuaspring is not just self-sufficient in its energy requirements" but "also allows us to produce desalinated water at a competitive cost", said Hyflux executive chairman Olivia Lum.

With greater dependence on energy-intensive technologies like water reclamation and desalination, it raises the question of whether water prices will rise for the consumer.

Not necessarily, said PUB chief executive Chew Men Leong on the sidelines of a water utility leaders' conference organised by the agency.

Improvements in technology have lowered the costs of desalination and water reclamation, he said, while other energy-efficiency improvements mean that the reclaiming and de-salting of water use less energy than they used to.

New desalination plant brings Singapore closer to self-sufficiency
Operated by Hyflux, Asia’s largest plant can deliver 70 million gallons of water daily
By Woo Sian Boon, TODAY, 19 Sep 2013

The Republic yesterday took a major stride towards becoming self-sufficient in water, with the opening of the second desalination plant here.

Sitting on a 14-ha site, Tuaspring Desalination Plant is the largest seawater reverse-osmosis desalination plant in Asia. With the capacity to remove dissolved salts from seawater amounting to 70 million gallons daily — equivalent to the amount that can fill 125 Olympic-sized pools — it will triple the amount of water the country gets from desalination.

Desalinated water, or treated seawater, is one of Singapore’s four national taps. The three others are imported water from Malaysia, NEWater and water from the reservoirs.

The new S$1.05-billion facility — developed and operated by Singapore’s biggest listed water treatment company, Hyflux — will deliver desalinated water to national water agency PUB over a 25-year period. Hyflux’s first desalination plant Singspring was opened in 2005 and is also located in Tuas.

Currently, Singspring produces 10 per cent of Singapore’s daily water needs of 400 million gallons. NEWater meets another 30 per cent of the needs, with the remaining supply coming from imported water and local catchment.

Together, the two desalination plants will now be able to meet 25 per cent of water needs.

At the opening ceremony — which was attended by 800 guests, including foreign dignitaries, government officials and industry representatives — Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong noted that Singapore was “almost totally dependent” on water supply from Johor when it achieved independence in 1965. Singaporeans lined up at public taps for water, employed night-soil collectors because homes lacked sanitation, he recounted. But the Republic has since turned a “strategic weakness” into “a source of thought leadership and competitive advantage”, he added.

This was achieved through political leadership, partnerships with various stakeholders and the work of the PUB, said Mr Lee.

For example, political decisions were made to enlarge Singapore’s water catchments, upgrade infrastructure and build a deep sewerage system. The Government also engaged the industry in public-private partnerships to explore and pilot new technologies and develop water infrastructure.

To secure the country’s water resources, the PUB expanded the reservoirs, built new ones, developed technologies to collect rainwater from urban catchments and promoted research and development to develop new sources of water such as NEWater, Mr Lee said.

He said: “We must continue to work together to secure our future needs for water. This is not an inexhaustible gift of nature, but a precious resource which we must husband and use wisely.”

Mr Lee also singled out the Government’s “difficult political decision” to price water “properly”, in a way that got Singaporeans to take water conservation seriously and minimise wastage and abuse.

At the same time, the authorities defray low-income households’ utility bills “so that nobody is unable to not afford the water which they need”, he added.

At Tuaspring, seawater is taken into the plant and goes through a two-stage reverse-osmosis treatment process — where impurities and salts are filtered out by ultra-fine semi-permeable membranes that can remove particles of up to 0.01 microns in size.

Because of a combination of factors, such as an on-site power plant and better technology, treated water from Tuaspring will be priced at 45 cents per cubic metre for the first year — lower than the price of 78 cents per cubic metre during SingSpring’s first-year of operation.

Under a tiered tariff structure that charges heavy users of water a higher rate, the PUB prices drinking water not only to recover the full cost of its production and supply but to reflect its scarcity value.

With water demand set to double by 2060, the desalination capacity will be increased in tandem.

By 2060, NEWater and desalinated water will meet up to 80 per cent of water demand.

Singapore’s existing bilateral agreement to import water from Johor will expire in 2061.

An earlier agreement had expired in August 2011, which saw PUB handing over the Gunong Pulai Waterworks to Johor State Government.

Energy efficiency a critical concern for Singapore: Vivian Balakrishnan
By Sharon See, Channel NewsAsia, 18 Sep 2013

Environment and Water Resources Minister Vivian Balakrishnan has said that energy efficiency has overtaken sustainable water supply as a critical concern for Singapore.

He said there is a need to "focus extensively and deeply" on the issue of energy efficiency.

Dr Balakrishnan said: “What has really happened globally is the substitution of one critical vulnerability - water - with another critical vulnerability - energy, simply because the process of reverse osmosis is energy intensive.

“So yes, we may not be so vulnerable now to water shortages because you can always produce NEWater or desalinate water, but it means energy is now the main game in town.”

Speaking at the Water Utilities Leaders Forum at the Singapore International Water Week, Dr Balakrishnan said that it currently takes 3.5 kilowatt-hours to produce one cubic metre of water in Singapore, and there is a need to bring this down by "several orders of magnitude".

3.5 kilowatt-hours can power a fridge for a day.

Dr Balakrishnan said that new technologies could hold the key to increasing energy efficiency.

He said used water by definition contains organic material, which has caloric value. This means it has energy that can be harnessed.

He said: "What is the most efficient way of harnessing that energy, and then recycling that energy to produce recycled water to produce reverse osmosis?

“So there is a whole rich bed of research and development, which will enable us, I believe and I hope, to make a breakthrough in energy efficiency and ultimately, in enabling us to improve the catchment and the yields of water through reverse osmosis at much lower energy costs."

But even as energy efficiency becomes a key priority, Singapore remains focused on ensuring a secure and sustainable water supply.

It is planning to expand its water catchment area from two-thirds to 90 per cent of the island's land area.

It is also ramping up capacity for NEWater production and desalination. In 50 years, NEWater and desalination together are expected to meet up to 80 per cent of Singapore's overall water demand.

PUB and Hyflux officially open Singapore’s second and largest desalination project

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