Singapore Launches Groundbreaking Standard for Energy-Efficient Data Centers in Tropical Climates

Singapore has introduced one of the world’s first standards for optimizing energy efficiency in data centers (DCs) located in tropical climate countries. Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information, Dr Janil Puthucheary, announced the standard, which was developed by a working group comprising industry experts, academics, and government agencies. The guidelines aim to enable the operation of DCs at higher temperature settings while maximizing energy efficiency.

Data centers play a crucial role in supporting the digital economy, but they are also significant consumers of resources such as land, water, and energy, contributing to carbon emissions. Cooling systems in traditional data centers account for up to 40% of total energy consumption, often operating at temperatures of 22°C and below. The challenge intensifies in warmer tropical climates, as more energy is required for cooling.

As the demand for data centers continues to rise, ensuring energy efficiency is vital for sustainable growth in the industry. Globally, there is a growing consensus among DC operators regarding the importance of sustainable operations. It is increasingly recognized that data centers can be operated at higher temperatures while achieving optimal results. However, there is a lack of established industry guidelines on safely raising operating temperatures in tropical climates with higher humidity levels. Singapore’s new standard addresses this gap and has been developed in consultation with the industry.

The Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) has unveiled the new standard, aimed at helping DCs develop a roadmap to gradually increase their operating temperatures to 26°C and above. This shift could potentially result in energy savings of 2% to 5% for cooling, with every 1°C increase in temperature.

The standard is part of the Digital Connectivity Blueprint launched by Singapore’s Minister for Communications and Information, Mrs Josephine Teo. Sustainability is a key design factor in Singapore’s digital infrastructure, aligning with the country’s long-term climate commitments. The tropical DC standard complements other sustainability-related industry standards and best practices, furthering Singapore’s push for sustainability in the ICT ecosystem. The government also plans to chart a roadmap towards net-zero data centers powered by renewable energy.

To encourage adoption of the standard, IMDA is collaborating with the Building & Construction Authority (BCA) to update the Green Mark scheme for DCs. The Green Mark certification sets energy efficiency and sustainability benchmarks for the industry. IMDA is also forging international public-private partnerships, collaborating with companies like IBM and Microsoft, and joining the Green Software Foundation and European Green Digital Coalition as a supporting partner. These partnerships aim to exchange best practices, promote green software implementation, and drive the development of sustainable digital applications.

Several DC operators in Singapore have already participated in pilot trials using the new standard. Digital Realty, for instance, increased their DC operating temperatures by 2°C in two data halls, resulting in approximately 2-3% energy usage reduction during the trial period. The Government Technology Agency (GovTech) has also initiated trials with higher temperatures in a Government DC as part of its sustainability initiatives.

IMDA invites DC operators to utilize the standard to determine the best operating temperature for optimizing energy efficiency in tropical climates while ensuring operational reliability.

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