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Keppel desalination plant in Marina East begins commercial operations

KMEDP Aerial View.jpg
The Keppel Marina East Desalination Plant's innovative design integrates the plant with surrounding greenery by situating the treatment equipment underground.

KMEDP Green Rooftop.jpg
The Keppel Marina East Desalination Plant's green rooftop. The innovative design integrates the plant with surrounding greenery by situating the treatment equipment underground.

SINGAPORE’S fourth desalination plant, the Keppel Marina East Desalination Plant (KMEDP), started commercial operations on June 29.

Keppel Infrastructure’s wholly-owned subsidiary Marina East Water will operate the plant for a 25-year concession period from 2020 to 2045, under the design, build, own and operate (DBOO) arrangement with national water agency PUB.

KMEDP is Singapore’s first large-scale, dual-mode desalination plant, said Keppel Corp and PUB in a joint media statement on Tuesday.

It is capable of producing 137,000 cubic metres or about 30 million gallons of fresh drinking water per day.

KMEDP is the second water plant developed and operated by Keppel under the DBOO arrangement. The first was the Keppel Seghers Ulu Pandan NEWater Plant.

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KMEDP’s location in Marina East gives it the ability to treat either seawater or freshwater drawn from the Marina Reservoir, depending on the weather conditions. 

“This will strengthen Singapore’s water supply resilience in the face of increasingly dry weather conditions caused by climate change,” PUB and Keppel said.

In dry weather, the plant will draw water from the sea to produce desalinated water. When it rains, KMEDP will use rainwater collected in the reservoir to produce potable water, which requires less energy and fewer steps in the treatment process compared to desalination.

PUB chief executive officer (CEO) Ng Joo Hee noted that seawater desalination is one of Singapore’s “four national taps”, and is a practically limitless source unlike the three other taps - imports, rainfall and recycled water. KMEDP coming online further strengthens Singapore’s water security, he added.

Keppel Infrastructure CEO Ong Tiong Guan said the new plant will also contribute to the group’s recurring income stream, bolstering its ability to create long-term value for stakeholders.

Dr Ong said there had been some challenges in completing the final lap of testing and commissioning, due to the reduced manpower during the coronavirus pandemic. However, Keppel worked closely with PUB and contractors to overcome these challenges to deliver a successful project.

The water treatment plant is integrated with parkland and is accessible to the public. It is set against the backdrop of Singapore’s central business district skyline, along the cyclist-friendly Eastern Coastal Park Connector Network that bridges the recreational spaces of East Coast Park and Gardens by the Bay East.

Treatment facilities are situated completely underground, viewable via a private gallery. This frees up nearly 20,000 square metres of open green rooftop space for community activity and recreation, and also reduces the urban heat island effect.

There are also environmentally friendly elements within its landscaping, such as rainwater harvesting ponds and stormwater management systems.

PUB’s Mr Ng said he is certain that KMEDP “will become as iconic and as loved as the nearby Marina Barrage”.

Shares of Keppel fell S$0.01 or 0.2 per cent to trade at S$6.00 as at 1.11pm on Tuesday.

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