Speech by MOS Alvin Tan at Launch of Sustainable Tropical Data Centre Testbed

Speech by MOS Alvin Tan at Launch of Sustainable Tropical Data Centre Testbed

Professor Liu Bin,

Deputy President (Research & Technology), National University of Singapore


Professor Lam Khin Yong,

Vice President (Industry), Nanyang Technological University


Distinguished Guests,


Ladies and Gentlemen,


1. Congrats on the opening of the Sustainable Tropical Data Centre Testbed facility! Data centres, or DCs support our digital economy. Glad that academia and industry are coming together to enhance this important infrastructure.


The Sustainable Tropical Data Centre Testbed facility is a crucial step in Singapore’s sustainable innovation journey.


2. As global demand for DCs continues to increase, Singapore is playing a crucial role to set new standards in sustainable DC practices. For example, in June, IMDA introduced one of the world’s first standards for optimising energy efficiency for data centres in tropical climates. This aims to help operators chart their roadmaps towards greener DCs. This comprises developing low-carbon digital applications and trialling higher operating temperatures to optimise DC’s overall energy efficiency.


3. As the saying goes, “Necessity is the mother of invention”. In a typical data centre, cooling systems already account for > 40% of the facility’s total energy consumption. In tropical climates like Singapore, we need more energy to cool the servers. Given our geographic location, we are well poised to develop unique solutions to optimise DC operations in tropical climates. These will help to reduce DCs’ total energy consumption.


4. Hence, this tropical DC testbed facility is important. It will support Singapore’s efforts in cutting-edge research on data centre innovation, and in growing data centres in a manner that is sustainable and aligned with our climate change commitments.


5. This testbed facility is special in two ways.


a. Firstly, it the first of its kind to be geared specially towards solutions for data centres in tropical climates. By mid-2024, the facility is expected to trial solutions to reduce energy consumption, water usage, and CO2 emissions by tropical DCs. It will also develop solutions to achieve a Power Usage Effectiveness (or PUE) of less than 1.2., which is significantly lower than the 2022 global average PUE of 1.5. Researchers are also testing ways to operate tropical DCs at higher temperatures to reduce the energy spent on cooling.


b. Second, this facility will pilot commercialisable solutions. This fosters an environment to translate theory into practice. It will accelerate the pace of innovation and enable Singapore DC players to play an active role in the development of solutions. For example, the facility will trial and facilitate commercial deployment of an integrated air and liquid cooling tech system, which will enable industry players to better assess the financial and operating costs of adopting this technology in real time.


This successful launch is thanks to the strong industry-academia-government collaboration.


6. The facility is testament to the combined efforts by industry, academia, and government to fast-track the adoption of sustainable DC solutions tailored for tropical climates.


7. So far, 20 industry partners have been supporting ongoing projects jointly led by NUS and NTU. In addition to the construction of the physical testbed facility, our industry partners have provided technical advice, supplied equipment for research, and provided funding and scholarships for researchers. Their support so far has amounted to > S$20 million. Thank you to our stakeholders for your support.


8. Government too, is supporting this effort. Our National Research Foundation (NRF), has committed to funding ~S$10 million for the projects. This will go into 4 work packages focused on innovating and optimising cooling tech, while a fifth work package is fully funded by industry. This brings total funding for the facility to S$30 million. We look forward working with our partners to support the initiatives under the facility.


Encourage local solutions to be developed and commercialised through the tropical DC testbed facility.


9. In the long-term, the facility will also be a platform for other universities and companies to validate new DC solutions. This will enable wider adoption of best practices for sustainable tropical DCs. I encourage researchers and industry practitioners to take this opportunity to develop your talents, explore new ideas, and play a key role in transforming our DC industry.


10. I look forward to the innovations which can be championed through this facility to support our tropical DCs. The know-how derived from various test-bedding initiatives has and continues to assist the industry in sharpening its sustainability standards.




11. Thank you, and congrats again on this successful launch.

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