MCI response to PQ on data on total carbon emissions by data centres in Singapore
Parliament Sitting on 27 July 2021
QUESTION FOR WRITTEN ANSWER
7. Mr Shawn Huang Wei Zhong: To ask the Minister for Communications and Information (a) in 2019 and 2020, what has been the total carbon emissions by data centres located in Singapore; (b) what is the expected data centre emissions for 2021; (c) what is the energy efficiency of data centres located in Singapore compared to those in the located in the region; and (d) whether there are plans to further reduce the emissions for data centres in Singapore.
Data centres (DCs) are a critical part of Singapore’s digital infrastructure. Together with our submarine cable networks, DCs are key to enabling the global digital economy through Singapore.
Developing a sustainable, energy-efficient DC sector is important, given that they are indirect greenhouse-gas emitters through electricity use. Based on an international survey and research on their energy efficiency1, DCs in Singapore generally performed better in terms of power usage effectiveness than others in the Asia-Pacific region by around 5–10%. In addition, newer DCs in Singapore have also deployed best-in-class solutions to achieve energy-efficiency levels that are comparable to those in the US and Europe, despite Singapore’s warmer tropical climate.
In 2019, DCs accounted for approximately 5.3% (2.75 terawatt-hours, or TWh) of Singapore’s total electricity consumption. Against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic and increased digitalisation, this increased by 1.7 percentage points to approximately 7% (3.40 TWh) in 2020. In the same period, electricity consumption for industry-related sectors grew by 1.8 percentage points, from 41.5% to 43.3% of total electricity consumption in Singapore.2
As the pace of digitalisation accelerates across all domains, the total electricity consumption of DCs is projected to increase, in line with global trends. In view of this, the Government is working with the industry to optimise the use of resources through measures such as encouraging DC operators to adopt even more energy-efficient solutions.
These include revising the Building and Construction Authority-Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) Green Mark for Data Centres certification scheme in 2019 to tighten the energy-efficiency criteria. IMDA also supported the launch of the Sustainable Tropical Data Centre Testbed by the National University of Singapore and Nanyang Technological University to conduct research to develop energy-efficient cooling technologies for DCs in a tropical environment. In addition, the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB)’s Resource Efficiency Grant for Energy for the manufacturing sector has been expanded to include DCs, and EDB has also enhanced the Investment Allowance for Emissions Reduction.
The Government will continue to work in partnership with the industry to develop a sustainable, energy-efficient DC sector in tandem with other sustainability efforts, like decarbonising Singapore’s electricity grid by harnessing four supply switches — natural gas, solar energy, regional power grids, and emerging low-carbon generation technologies.
1 Uptime Institute Annual Survey 2020 (https://journal.uptimeinstitute.com/datacenter-energy-efficiency-by-region/); Chitakasem, Parita. The Future of Data Centres in the Face of Climate Change. Singapore: Eco-Business Research, 2020.
2 From ‘Statistics: Electricity Consumption by Sub-Sector (Total)’, Energy Market Authority. https://www.ema.gov.sg/statistic.aspx?sta_sid=20140617RUm4KNzEtgQa/. Figures for 2020 are for January to July 2020.