Opening of Tuas Desalination Plant marks major milestone in Singapore’s journey towards water sustainability


Singapore’s desalination journey marks a major milestone today with the opening of the Tuas Desalination Plant (TDP). This is the nation’s third desalination plant and the first to be owned and operated by PUB, Singapore’s National Water Agency. Mr Masagos Zulkifli, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, joined by some 100 guests, officiated the opening of the plant this morning.

The TDP is a strategic infrastructural asset that will boost Singapore’s desalination capacity from the current 100 million gallons per day (mgd), meeting up to 30 per cent of the country’s current water demand. By 2060, desalination is expected to meet up to 30 per cent of Singapore’s water needs.


Setting industry benchmarks and optimising operational efficiencies

The TDP is a compact plant, occupying a footprint of 305 hectares. It can produce up to 30mgd (136,000m³) of drinking water, equivalent to the water demand of around 200,000 households.

TDP boasts many firsts, not only being the first plant to be owned and operated by PUB, but also the first desalination plant in Singapore to adopt a robust pre-treatment process that combines Dissolved Air Filtration (DAF) and Ultrafiltration (UF). Such a combination helps to reduce membrane fouling when treating seawater of varying water quality, thereby enhancing operational efficiency.

Another first for the TDP is its pursuit of clean energy. By the end of 2018, a 1.2MWp solar PV system will be installed on more than half of TDP’s roof surface. Covering more than 7,000m² of the roof surface, the solar PV system will be able to generate some 1.4 million kWh of clean energy a year, enough to power the energy needs of over 300 four-room flats a year. This will also help to power the energy needs of part of the plant as well as reduce the plant’s carbon footprint.

“Seawater desalination has a starring role in Singapore’s water future. And the opening of this TDP is another milestone in our quest for enduring water security. TDP may well be the most space-efficient one of its kind in the world,” said Mr Ng Joo Hee, Chief Executive, PUB. “Being owned and operated by PUB, it serves to anchor core desalinating competency inside of PUB. More excitingly, it is a real-world testbed for the cutting-edge technologies that PUB has been exploring in recent years in our ambitious bid to half the energy take for seawater desalination.”

Besides TDP, Singapore has two other desalination plants – SingSpring (30mgd) and Tuaspring (70mgd) – in operation. Moreover, there are two other plants under development as well, one at Marina East (30mgd), and another on Jurong Island (30mgd). Upon completion in 2020, they will further strengthen Singapore’s water supply resilience.


Securing water for Singapore’s future needs

The nation’s water demand is projected to double from the 430 million gallons per day at present by 2060 as the economy and population continues to grow.

PUB’s plan is to progressively increase supply capacities to meet the growing demand, as well as to cater for resilience against contingencies such as prolonged dry weather. Moreover, there is a natural limit to supply augmentation from local catchments as two-thirds of Singapore is already water catchment.

Singapore’s future water security lies with desalination and reuse. These rainfall-independent sources of water will also help to reduce vulnerability to weather uncertainties.