The Making of Singapore’s Newest Desalination Plant

The Jurong Island Desalination Plant (JIDP) sets a new milestone for more weather-resilient water supply in Singapore, thanks to cutting-edge desalination technologies and sustainable engineering design. How was this large-scale environmental engineering project delivered?  We talk to Ng Sing Chan, President for the Marine arm of ST Engineering to know more.

On 17 April 2022, Singapore unveiled its fifth desalination plant — the outcome of a public-private partnership between the Public Utilities Board and the Tuas Power-ST Engineering consortium.

Built next to an existing power plant,  JIDP calls for innovative engineering solutions right from the start. “From creating modular systems in various parts of the desalination process to the pre-fabrication of equipment, the design and construction of the JIDP saw ST Engineering leverage our expertise in large scale engineering projects in the marine sector to deliver complex environmental engineering solutions,” shared Mr Ng Sing Chan, President of the Marine arm at ST Engineering.

The power of real-time monitoring, including the use of sensors and IoT networks for data collection and consolidation, supports accurate data analytics for swift predictive maintenance. This translates to productivity and efficiency improvements at this modern water treatment plant. In fact, the JIDP is so highly automated and advanced that a three-man team is all it takes to operate the entire plant — making JIDP one of the most labour-efficient desalination plant currently in Singapore.

ST Engineering has certainly come a long way in environmental engineering. Besides JIDP, the more recent environmental engineering project involved Tuas Nexus, the world’s first integrated waste treatment and water reclamation facility located in Singapore. “With water treatment, our goal is to be part of the global water security solution by drawing on our capabilities in large-scale projects. Like shipbuilding, the JIDP requires highly detailed design planning and good project management experience. They are both premised on extensive domain knowledge in mechanical and electrical engineering, as well as technical know-how on complex piping systems. Growing the environmental business under the marine arm makes a lot of sense because it allows us to benefit from knowledge transfers, deepen our core capabilities and widen our network of partners,” Mr Ng explained.

“The JIDP is a strong testament of our ability to apply scalable engineering design to cutting-edge technologies to advance our environmental engineering accomplishment into modern plant operations. Spanning waste and water treatment projects in desalination, water reclamation and waste-to-energy projects, we have further boosted our environmental engineering capability for Design, Build, Own and Operate (DBOO), Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) and Operations & Maintenance (O&M) projects, added Mr Ng.

With growing populations and the threats of climate change, water security has become a common challenge across cities. The sustainability of Singapore’s water supply, as well as sustainable operations of this water treatment plant, have been the focal points of ST Engineering’s newest environmental engineering development.

In fact, ST Engineering has long been harnessing innovation and ground-breaking technologies to build a more secure and sustainable world. The Group first forayed into environmental engineering in the 2000s, establishing its credentials in solid waste management before expanding into water treatment in 2008. Since then, the Group has expanded its environmental engineering track record from water reclamation and desalination with Kranji NEWater plant and the latest JIDP, to the upcoming world’s first integrated water and solid waste facility at Tuas Nexus.

Indeed, the completion of JIDP signals an expansion of ST Engineering’s capabilities in sustainable environmental solutions. Having to construct on existing infrastructure, it has tested the Group’s resourcefulness in designing and pre-fabricating modular sub systems, such as the reverse-osmosis units, to simplify and speed up the assembly work. Its completion with lower capital investment and reduced carbon footprint were proof of ST Engineering’s progression in environmental engineering.

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