03 June 2021

Keppel Marina East Desalination Plant named ‘Desalination Plant of the Year’ at Global Water Awards 2021

International water community recognises Singapore’s first dual-mode desalination plant as a model of innovation that strengthens Singapore’s water security

The Keppel Marina East Desalination Plant (KMEDP), Singapore’s first large-scale, dual-mode desalination plant, has been named ‘Desalination Plant of the Year’ at the Global Water Awards 2021. It was officially opened in February 2021, by Guest of Honour, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, at a ceremony organised by Keppel Infrastructure Holdings Pte Ltd (Keppel Infrastructure) and PUB, Singapore’s National Water Agency.

The plant can produce up to 137,000m3/day (or 54 Olympic-size swimming pools) of drinking water regardless of weather conditions, making it a weather-resilient and stable water supply. KMEDP was designed with an innovative dual-mode capability to take advantage of its unique location in Marina East, where the plant can treat either seawater or reservoir water drawn from the Marina Reservoir, depending on the prevailing weather conditions, thus strengthening Singapore’s water supply resilience.

Strengthening resilience against climate change

Climate change is making weather conditions more volatile in Singapore and around the world. More frequent dry seasons with limited rainfall increases the reliance on seawater desalination, which is an energy-intensive process. Due to Singapore’s limited land size, during seasons of heavy rainfall, the amount of rainwater and stormwater that can be collected and treated into potable water is limited by catchment area size.  

During such periods of heavy rainfall, 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 the energy required for seawater desalination.

The plant also doubles up as a flood control measure by collecting excess stormwater runoff within its landscaping via bioretention basins and rainwater harvesting ponds, preventing excessive rainfall from entering the public drainage system and causing floods. The collected water is then reused in irrigation and the facility’s water features.

A model of efficiency

KMEDP also incorporates innovative, energy-efficient systems and equipment, such as the compact Dissolved Air Flotation system which reduces the plant footprint by 30%. This is vital for land-scarce Singapore. It is also the first plant in Singapore to feature the energy-efficient direct coupling of the ultrafiltration (UF) and reverse osmosis (RO) systems, where water filtered from the upstream UF process is fed directly to the downstream RO process, eliminating intermediate break tanks and pumping stages while retaining booster pressure, resulting in significant cost and space saving, as omitting one pumping cycle saves 15% of the energy used in a pumping cycle.

An iconic and progressive desalination plant

Sitting at 2.7ha, with the plant process area at only 2.4ha, KMEDP is the most compact desalination plant in Singapore to date. The entire treatment facility and pumping station are also located underground, freeing up the space above for social recreation, while blending seamlessly into the surrounding greenery. The 20,000sqm green roof also reduces the urban heat island effect by minimising heat absorption to keep the rooftop recreational area cool. Since the green roof was opened to public last year, KMEDP has seen a steady stream of joggers, cyclists and members of the public enjoying the recreational space.

Ms Cindy Lim, Chief Executive Officer of Keppel Infrastructure, said, “We are honoured that the KMEDP is recognised for its innovative design, energy efficiency and contribution to strengthening the resilience of Singapore’s water supply. The KMEDP showcases Keppel’s strong project management and technological capabilities, and our ability to harness these capabilities to integrate ecosystems and the built environment from end to end. This is very much in line with Keppel’s Vision 2030, which envisages the Group providing environmental solutions to contribute to sustainable urbanisation.”

Mr Ng Joo Hee, Chief Executive of PUB, said, “Desalination provides a weather-resistant source of water, and will be increasingly important for Singapore. In addition to providing treatment capacity that further strengthens Singapore’s water security, the KMEDP is also a very special facility. It is dual-purpose, situated in the city and integrated with parkland, and a beautiful piece of architecture. I am happy it has been honoured with this latest accolade.

“The Global Water Awards recognise the most important achievements in the international water industry that are moving the industry forward. I would like to congratulate Singapore’s Keppel Marina East Desalination Plant, the winner of the Desalination Plant of the Year. By optimising its physical footprint and energy-efficiency, it sets a new standard for desalination plants around the world,” said Mr Christopher Gasson, Publisher of Global Water Intelligence, which established the awards in 2006.


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About Keppel Infrastructure

Keppel Infrastructure (KI) is a wholly owned subsidiary of Keppel Corporation Limited, a leading company listed on the Singapore Exchange. KI drives the Keppel Group's strategy to invest in, own and operate competitive energy and environmental infrastructure solutions and services.

For more information, please go to: www.kepinfra.com