High-water mark for new Tuas plant

The tubes holding the reverse osmosis membranes in the Tuas Desalination Plant. The facility has more than 14,000 of these membranes, which are the final filters that sea water is pumped through to remove all impurities.
The tubes holding the reverse osmosis membranes in the Tuas Desalination Plant. The facility has more than 14,000 of these membranes, which are the final filters that sea water is pumped through to remove all impurities.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO
(From left) Construction firm HSL's chief executive Charles Quek, Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources Permanent Secretary Albert Chua, Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli and PUB chief executive Ng Joo Hee officially
(From left) Construction firm HSL's chief executive Charles Quek, Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources Permanent Secretary Albert Chua, Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli and PUB chief executive Ng Joo Hee officially opening the Tuas Desalination Plant yesterday.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

Smallest facility here produces 30m gallons of water daily, similar to one twice its size

The Tuas Desalination Plant is the world's most space efficient in terms of the amount of water it can purify for its size, said national water agency PUB.

At 3.5ha, it is the smallest of the country's desalination facilities, yet it produces 30 million gallons of drinking water a day, the same amount as SingSpring Desalination Plant, which is almost double its size.

It took two years to build and opened officially yesterday. And now that it is running, 30 per cent of Singapore's water supply can be met through desalination.

The $217 million facility will remain the smallest even after the next two desalination plants are built in Marina East and on Jurong Island by 2020.

It is the first to use solar power, as well as the most technologically advanced. More than 7,000 sq m of the new plant's roof will be covered by a photovoltaic system and, when online, the solar panels can generate 1.4 million kilowatt hours of energy a year, enough to power over 300 four-room flats for the same period.

However, in an indication of just how much electricity is needed for desalination, this is enough to run only the plant's administrative building - less than 1 per cent of the facility's total needs.

The Tuas Desalination Plant combines two purification methods used separately in SingSpring and Tuaspring. By doing so, its reverse osmosis membranes - where the final stage of purification occurs - must be cleaned only once monthly, compared with as often as once every two weeks.

MILESTONE FOR WATER SECURITY

Sea-water desalination has a starring role in Singapore's water future. And the opening of Tuas Desalination Plant is another milestone in our quest for enduring water security.

PUB CHIEF EXECUTIVE NG JOO HEE

Notably, this plant is the first to be owned and operated by PUB and, according to PUB water supply (plants) director Bernard Koh, will allow the agency to implement its own research and development projects.

The water agency's chief executive Ng Joo Hee said: "Sea-water desalination has a starring role in Singapore's water future. And the opening of Tuas Desalination Plant is another milestone in our quest for enduring water security."

He added: "Excitingly, it is a real-world test bed for the cutting-edge technologies PUB has been exploring in recent years in our ambitious bid to halve the energy used for seawater desalination."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 29, 2018, with the headline 'High-water mark for new Tuas plant'. Print Edition | Subscribe