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Singapore’s data centre investment prospects dim, says report

ANN/THE STRAITS TIMES – Singapore’s recent plans to boost its data centre capacity might not draw significant investments from foreign investors, according to a market report by BMI, a Fitch Solutions company.

This is primarily because the current capacity allocation in Singapore falls short of meeting the demand for data centres in Southeast Asia. Meanwhile, other markets, particularly Malaysia, are experiencing a surge in momentum for data centre investments.

Singapore recently unveiled a roadmap, orchestrated by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), aiming to expand its data centre capacity by 300 megawatts (MW) in the near future.

An additional 200MW could be allocated for operators utilising green energy sources. The IMDA spokesperson, responding to inquiries from The Business Times, emphasised that the 300MW augmentation serves as a foundational step to encourage innovation within the industry, fostering collaborations to enhance energy efficiency and promote the adoption of sustainable practices.

“The road map charts a pathway for the data centre sector to innovate and pioneer solutions, not only to support Singapore’s international climate commitments, but also to help address the global challenge that countries face for data centre growth.

“Singapore remains attractive as data centres tap its broader international position as a business and digital hub,” said the spokesperson.

A moratorium on data centres in Singapore between 2019 and 2022 prompted a rapid migration of such centres to elsewhere in Southeast Asia, in particular Johor in Malaysia and Batam in Indonesia. Their proximity to Singapore, their regulations, as well as the lower costs of electricity and labour have led to surging volumes of data centre investments in these two markets.

The BMI market report estimates data centre capacity in Johor to be over 1,800MW; in Batam, it stands at 285MW. Including previously announced permits that Singapore has awarded to Equinix, Microsoft, GDS and a consortium between AirTrunk and ByteDance to deploy data centres, the report estimates that this will increase capacity by a maximum of 80MW, bringing the total capacity for future developments to 380MW.

With this additional allocation, the researchers behind the report have revised Singapore’s live data centre capacity to 1,400MW, up from 876MW.

An Equinix data centre in Singapore. PHOTO: THE STRAITS TIMES