History of the Marina Bay District Cooling Network

In 2016, we formally commissioned the Marina Bay District Cooling Network. As the first of its kind then, it was a trailblazer for district cooling services in Singapore. Although the financial returns were uncertain, we saw the potential synergies that the District Cooling Network could share with the Common Services Tunnel (CST), and the energy savings that this could reap. So we took a calculated risk, and invested significantly in the project. Our home-grown companies, SP Group and Singapore District Cooling (SDC), also stepped up, helping to see the project through to implementation and operation.

While the journey was fraught with complexity and challenges, we worked together to successfully operationalise the network. This freed up around 16,000sqm of prime space which allowed developers to achieve better building design and enhance our cityscape, without the need for individual rooftop cooling towers. For example, the Marina Bay Sands rooftop now boasts an infinity pool and a skypark, which have become icons. The users of the network also enjoyed efficiency and energy savings of more than 40%. As the network grew steadily to include more buildings, we were able to reap even greater economies of scale and achieve better financial viability. This cast the foundation and paved the way for other district cooling systems in Singapore.

The Next Milestone for the the Marina Bay District Cooling Network

Today, 16 years into its operation, the Marina Bay District Cooling Network remains in a class of its own, as the world’s largest underground cooling network.

5 It gives me great pleasure to celebrate this occasion with SP Group. We have reached new heights in our Marina Bay district cooling journey by further expanding the network – five upcoming new and retrofit developments being added to the network, increasing its cooling capacity, and reaping more carbon savings.

Throughout this journey, SP Group has continued to challenge itself, to expand the network and improve service delivery and reliability. As a result of your hard work and determination, there has not been a single supply interruption since the network started – well done, and thank you! Long may this record continue.

The Future of District Cooling

District cooling projects like the Marina Bay Network are an important part of our drive to make Singapore a much more sustainable city. As part of the Singapore Green Plan, we want our buildings and our towns to be much more energy-efficient, and to have a much smaller carbon footprint. This will help us achieve net zero emissions as soon as possible, since buildings contribute over 20% of our total carbon emissions. So we are striving to implement district cooling more widely.

For example, we are piloting a centralised cooling system in the upcoming Tengah HDB town, as part of our continual efforts to green our HDB estates. 9 out of 10 Tengah residents engaged by SP Group have chosen centralised cooling for their new home. These households will enjoy savings of up to 20% in upfront costs and up to 30% in life-cycle costs. The carbon savings reaped would equate to taking 4,500 cars off the road – combustion engine cars.

Apart from Tengah Town, there is also Jurong Lake District. This District will be the largest mixed-use business district outside of the city centre and we aim to make it a model for urban sustainability of the future. In 2016, we also announced that we would consider establishing a district cooling network in the future Jurong Lake District.

I am pleased to announce that we have completed our study and have decided to put in place a district cooling network for the Jurong Lake District. District cooling can reap even more benefits in a mixed-use district, like the Jurong Lake District, because the different types of building users will tend to tap on the cooling system at different times of the day. For example, commercial and industrial buildings may require more cooling during working hours, while residential buildings may rely on cooling more in the evenings, after residents have returned home for the night. Cooling demand is thus more spread out across the day in mixed-use districts, which lowers peak demand and increases overall energy efficiency.

We will launch a Request for Proposal for the District Cooling System Operator for the Jurong Lake District later this year.

I am also encouraged by SP Group and Temasek’s announcement yesterday. With the strong partnership between SP Group, Temasek, Tampines GRC, and the Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment (MSE), Tampines will become the first town centre retrofitted with district cooling. This will allow us to reap carbon savings equivalent to taking around 1,200 cars off the road.

When implemented, it would be the first district cooling system that we are implementing on a brownfield site – yet another important milestone in our district cooling journey.

Pushing Towards a More Sustainable Singapore

We will continue to push ahead on the frontiers of district cooling and other technologies, and find better ways to manage our cooling needs. This is a challenge in our tropical climate, and it is exacerbated by climate change and the Urban Heat Island effect. Today, cooling accounts for around a quarter of household electricity usage, and up to 60% of total energy consumption for commercial buildings. So we have to keep pressing forward to find eve better solutions.

More broadly, beyond cooling, we will continue to drive green building efforts on various fronts.

Last year, we launched the latest edition of the Singapore Green Building Masterplan, with three ambitious targets – “80-80-80 in 2030”. We aim to green 80% of our buildings by Gross Floor Area by 2030, for 80% of new buildings to be Super Low Energy Buildings from 2030, and for our best-in-class green buildings to achieve some 80% improvement in energy efficiency over 2005 levels – when we first started, by the time we reach 2030.

To achieve these targets, we have raised the minimum environmental sustainability requirements in our building regulations, as well as the sustainability standards under our Green Mark scheme.

We have also rolled out several incentives for both new and existing buildings, to encourage developers and building owners to pursue higher sustainability standards.

In addition, to facilitate advancement in green building technologies, we have enhanced funding to the Green Buildings Innovation Cluster by a further $45 million. This will support research into technologies such as energy-efficient cooling and smart building systems.

We will continue building on these efforts, to accelerate our journey towards a net-zero energy Singapore.

Source: Municipal Services Office