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Case Study

Securing Singapore’s Water Supply through Smart Desalination

Singapore’s first dual-mode desalination plant treats seawater and reservoir water using innovative solutions from ABB.

AUTHOR

Related Topics

Energy Management

Desalination

BACKGROUND

Singapore is using desalination as part of the solution to their water supply issue in order to provide enough clean drinking water for its ever-growing population of 5.5 million. Though surrounded by water, having enough drinking water has always been a challenge for this island state. Currently the demand for drinking water is up to 430 million gallons a day. The Keppel Marina East Desalination Plant (KMEDP) is the latest step of Singapore using advanced technology to help address their water challenge.

In operation since June 2021, KMEDP is one of the most advanced desalination plants in the world. Being one of the first in the world with a dual-mode facility, the plant is capable of treating either rainwater drawn from the nearby Marina Reservoir or seawat­­er, depending on prevailing weather conditions, making it weather-resilient to provide a stable water supply to the community. The facility can produce 30 million gallons of clean water every day, enough to fill 45 Olympic-size swimming pools and 7% of Singapore’s daily water demand.

THE SOLUTION

The plant is operating with a host of cutting-edge technologies from ABB, including automation and control systems as well as instrumentation and water analysers. With ABB’s supply of energy-efficient motors, variable speed drives and switchgear, together with process optimisation aimed at increasing efficiency, the gains to be realised could potentially help reduce electricity consumption by up to 40%. A range of smart sensors and water-monitoring equipment are also being used in the plant.

KMEDP’s plantwide control systems are unified under an ABB Ability™ System distributed control system, a user-friendly digital platform that gives engineers wide visibility and precise control from a central command center. The intelligent and integrated solution allows uniformity of procedures and helps improve quality of operational processes. Data is seamlessly transferred from field instruments to the control system for analysis and diagnostics. With its fully digital-ready control system, the plant’s operations can be extended from device to edge to cloud.

Results

With the plant’s dual intakes, when the water level in the reservoir is low, sea water can be pumped into the plant to be desalinated. When the reservoir water levels are high, the plant can treat water from the reservoir. The option to switch to treating reservoir water results in more effective water use, operational flexibility and optimised operational costs, as reservoir water treatment consumes only one-third of the energy required for seawater desalination.

KMEDP became the first industrial plant in Singapore to be awarded the highest tier of PUB’s ABC Waters Certification (Gold) in 2019, which recognises the public area’s creative ecological design and exceptional Active, Beautiful and Clean features. Recently, it was also named “Desalination Plant of the Year” at the Global Water Awards 2021.

A unique aspect of the facility is that all the water treatment equipment is situated underground, freeing up 20,000 sq. meters of open green rooftop space for public use.

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