Thursday, 16 July 2020

Keppel Marina East Desalination Plant: Singapore's fourth desalination plant begins operations

Keppel Marina East Desalination Plant begins commercial operations with effect from 29 June 2020
It can treat both fresh water and seawater, meet the demands of 200,000 households
By Lester Wong, The Straits Times, 15 Jul 2020

Singapore's fourth desalination plant, which can produce about 30 million gallons of fresh drinking water a day, has begun commercial operations, said national water agency PUB yesterday.

This amount of water is equivalent to the water demands of about 200,000 households, and accounts for about 7 per cent of Singapore's daily water demand of 430 million gallons.

The Keppel Marina East Desalination Plant, which officially started operations on June 29, is the Republic's first large-scale plant able to treat both fresh water and seawater.

In dry weather, the plant draws water from the sea to produce desalinated water.

When it rains, the plant will instead use rainwater collected in Marina Reservoir to make potable water, which requires less energy and fewer steps in the treatment process compared with desalination.

This will strengthen Singapore's water supply resilience in the face of increasingly dry weather conditions caused by climate change, PUB said.

PUB chief executive Ng Joo Hee said desalination is one of Singapore's four national taps, alongside imports, rainfall and recycled water, but unlike the other three, it is a "practically limitless source".

"The plant's completion is also eagerly awaited because it is such a special facility: A dual-purpose desalination plant in the middle of our city, integrated with parkland, accessible to the public, and a beautiful piece of architecture," he added.

The new desalination plant is located along the stretch of the Eastern Coastal Park Connector Network that bridges East Coast Park and Gardens by the Bay East.

It features nearly 20,000 sq m of open green rooftop space for community activities and recreation, with the space freed up by situating treatment facilities underground.

Last October, the Marina East plant became the first industrial plant here to be given PUB's ABC Waters Certification (Gold) award for its design features.

Keppel Infrastructure subsidiary Marina East Water, which has a 25-year concession period, will operate the plant from this year to 2045. Keppel also operates the Ulu Pandan Newater plant.

Keppel Infrastructure CEO Ong Tiong Guan said the company faced some "inevitable challenges" while completing the final lap of testing amid the COVID-19 pandemic owing to reduced manpower.

"The commencement of operations is a testament to Keppel's can-do spirit and resilience, as we worked closely with PUB and our contractors to overcome these challenges and deliver a successful project," Dr Ong added.

Singapore's three other desalination plants are the SingSpring, Tuas South and Tuas plants, which began operations in 2005, 2013 and 2018 respectively. Including the new plant, the four plants now have a combined capacity of 160 million gallons of water a day.


* Singapore's fourth desalination plant, which can treat both sea and reservoir water, officially opens on 4 February 2021
By Audrey Tan and Ng Keng Gene, The Straits Times, 5 Feb 2021

Singapore took another step towards boosting its water security in the face of climate change by opening its fourth desalination plant - the only one capable of treating sea and reservoir water.

Speaking at the official opening of the Keppel Marina East Desalination Plant yesterday, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said weather conditions are set to become more volatile and it will become harder for Singapore to ensure a stable and reliable water supply.

He cited how Malaysia's Linggiu Reservoir, where Singapore draws a significant proportion of water from, had plunged to 20 per cent of its capacity - a historic low - during a dry spell in 2016. While the situation has improved with recent rain, he said: "I was really worried, and tracking the situation daily, because there was a real risk to our water supply. It was a vivid reminder of why we have to be obsessed with saving water, and make every drop count."

Singapore consumes 430 million gallons of water a day, a figure that is expected to double by 2060.

"Local catchments and water imported from Malaysia are already insufficient to meet our daily needs," PM Lee said. But Singapore has supplemented its supply with recycled used water and desalination.

The Keppel Marina East Desalination Plant, which started operating last June, is the country's fourth such facility to come on line.

National water agency PUB's chief executive Ng Joo Hee, who was also at yesterday's event, said desalination - or the conversion of seawater into drinkable water - is one of the four national taps. "Unlike the other three taps - imported water, rainfall and recycled water - (the sea) is a practically limitless resource."

The plant can treat about 30 million gallons a day (mgd), or up to 7 per cent of Singapore's daily water needs of about 430mgd.

The 2.8ha facility, located between East Coast Park and Bay East Garden, can draw water from the sea during periods of dry weather, or treat water from Marina Reservoir during periods with heavy rain.

It is the first large-scale desalination plant with both these features, and was built following years of testing and research, including a 2007 test of dual-mode desalination at a demonstration plant in Pasir Ris.

Mr Chew Chee Keong, PUB's director for water supply (plants), said the facility, located right by the coast and next to Marina Reservoir, is in a good position to harness both sources of water.

"With climate change... we are likely to experience more intense rainfall and more severe drought. (The plant's) dual-mode function affords PUB greater operational flexibility to respond to the vagaries of weather, strengthening Singapore's water supply resilience."

Water expert Asit Biswas, a distinguished visiting professor at the University of Glasgow, said it may not be feasible for all desalination plants here to have this dual function, as many are located at sites such as Tuas, which do not have access to freshwater.

"That said, where the pre-conditions of access to both freshwater and seawater are met, like in the case of (the new plant), dual-mode capability is an attractive option that could be considered," he added.

PUB said the fifth desalination plant on Jurong Island, which was slated to open last year, has been delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but it is expected to be completed by the first half of this year.

As for the Tuas South Desalination Plant - which PUB took over from embattled water treatment firm Hyflux in 2019 - it can produce drinking water even while repairs to address operational issues are ongoing, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment Grace Fu said in a written reply to a Parliament question from Aljunied GRC MP Gerald Giam on Monday.

She said: "The repairs, which included the replacement of ultra-filtration and reverse osmosis membranes, cost around $80 million in total and are on track for completion in mid-2021."

New plant makes more efficient use of resources
By Ng Keng Gene, The Straits Times, 5 Feb 2021

When storm water filled up Marina Reservoir in the past, excess water was expelled into the sea via the Marina Barrage.

Now, some of this precious resource will not be wasted and will be converted into drinking water at Singapore's fourth desalination plant, the Keppel Marina East Desalination Plant.

The facility, which was officially opened by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong yesterday, is the first one here to be able to convert both sea and reservoir water into drinkable water.

Mr Tan Boon Leng, managing director for environmental infrastructure at Keppel Infrastructure, the plant's builder and operator, described the releasing of the excess rainwater captured as a waste.

He added: "The key feature here is really to make better use of the investments that we have."

Mr Chew Chee Keong, national water agency PUB's director for water supply (plants), told The Straits Times that the dual-mode function also gives PUB greater operational flexibility, strengthening Singapore's water supply resilience.

The 2.8ha facility - about twice the size of a football field - can draw water from the sea during periods of dry weather, or treat water from Marina Reservoir during periods of heavy rain.

Besides boosting the country's water security, the new plant also achieves resource efficiencies.

Dr Cecilia Tortajada, an adjunct senior research fellow at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy's Institute of Water Policy, said: "Energy use is related to how saline water is. During the times freshwater is used, the plant will use much less energy."

Mr Chew said that while in reservoir mode, the plant uses about a third of the energy required for it to operate in seawater mode.

In a speech, Keppel Corporation chairman Lee Boon Yang noted that locating water treatment facilities underground meant a 20,000 sq m open rooftop park could be created as a community space for Singaporeans and visitors.

Water expert Asit Biswas, a distinguished visiting professor at the University of Glasgow, said the plant is a good example of sustainable urbanisation, incorporating a space for recreation in essential water infrastructure. "The authorities did an excellent job in identifying a location where they could build water infrastructure that blends so well with the surrounding urban landscape," he said.

Pointing to the open space, Tanjong Rhu resident Tom Stephens said the plant's design is reminiscent of the Marina Barrage. The 40-year-old, who works in banking, added that he often takes walks around the plant with his nine-month-old toddler. "It is beautiful in the evenings, especially with the view of the city skyline."

**   PUB, Keppel Marina East desalination plant earn top honours at Global Water Awards 2021
National agency tops new category; desalination unit wins on innovation
By Choo Yun Ting, The Straits Times, 3 Jun 2021

PUB said in a statement yesterday that it was named Resilient Water Agency of the Year for its robust efforts in ensuring the Republic's water security amid the many challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Keppel Marina East Desalination Plant, which was officially opened in February, won in its category for its innovative capability to treat both seawater and freshwater from the surrounding reservoir depending on weather conditions.

They beat three other nominees in their respective categories to take top prizes at the Global Water Awards, which was established by publisher and events organiser Global Water Intelligence in 2006.

The results were announced at an online event on Wednesday.

The awards recognise the most important achievements in the international water industry and initiatives in the water, used water and desalination sectors.

PUB has won honours in various categories at the awards over the past four years. This streak is a testament to its commitment to operational excellence with continual investments in innovation and technology to become a smart utility of the future, the agency said.

Last year, the upgraded Choa Chu Kang Waterworks was named Water Project of the Year, while PUB-owned Tuas Desalination Plant and the Ulu Pandan Wastewater Treatment Demonstration Plant won in previous years.

The Resilient Water Agency of the Year award is a new category that recognises government agencies or water utilities that offered the most robust or innovative response to the unique challenges of 2020 for the water and used water sector.

PUB said it initiated a crisis management plan to ensure that plants and operations function as usual when Covid-19 struck last year, putting in place work arrangements to keep its staff safe.

It responded quickly to manpower challenges and took steps to ensure sufficient stockpile of materials and supplies for its operations, maintenance and construction projects, it added.

PUB chief executive Ng Joo Hee said: "Because we have been quick to act, nimble in adjusting and able to coordinate as one, PUB continues to accomplish our water mission, in spite of a raging pandemic and an uncertain business environment.

"The commencement of operations at the Keppel Marina East Desalination plant, with its dual-mode capability, has further strengthened Singapore's water security, adding a weather-resilient source of water in the face of climate change."

The plant, which has its entire treatment facility and pumping station under ground, features a recreational space that is accessible to the public.

Ms Cindy Lim, CEO of Keppel Infrastructure, said: "The Keppel Marina East Desalination Plant showcases Keppel's strong project management and technological capabilities, and our ability to harness these capabilities to integrate ecosystems and the built environment from end to end."

Mr Christopher Gasson, publisher of Global Water Intelligence, noted: "By optimising its physical footprint and energy efficiency, (the plant) sets a new standard for desalination plants around the world."

The Marina East plant started operations last June and was one of the key projects that PUB focused on to strengthen Singapore's water resilience amid the challenges of Covid-19 in 2020. PUB also began construction works last year on the floating solar farm on Tengeh Reservoir and Tuas Nexus, Singapore's first integrated and solid waste treatment facility.


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