Equinix Expands Singapore Data Center
By Kenny Chee, The Straight Times
April 25, 2022
SINGAPORE – US data centre operator Equinix said on Thursday (April 21) that it has completed a US$86 million (S$117 million) expansion of its fifth data centre in Singapore as demand for digital infrastructure here continues rising.
The amount is on top of Equinix’s US$144 million initial investment in the data centre, dubbed SG5, in Tanjong Kling, Jurong West, which opened in August last year.
The expansion more than doubles the facility’s space for servers to more than 2,950 cabinets to meet the requirements of current and new customers. It also more than doubles the initial server floor space to over 83,000 sq ft.
When SG5 is fully decked out, it is expected to be able to offer 5,000 cabinets and a server floor space of close to 129,000 sq ft.
Since 2018, Equinix has invested more than US$430 million to expand its business in Singapore. Last year, it invested more than US$911 million in the Asia Pacific.
Ms Leong Yee May, managing director of Equinix South Asia, said: “Our digital infrastructure empowers public and private organisations with the capabilities necessary for innovation, participation and success in the digital economy.
“This is crucial as enterprises in Singapore continue their drive towards digital transformation, solidifying Singapore’s status as South-east Asia’s premier business and technology hub.”
The number of customers Equinix has in Singapore has grown 15 per cent, from more than 740 last year to more than 850 now.
With high demand from customers for data centre services, the company has had to be “very strategic in the customers we bring in” as they must complement the company’s ecosystem, said Ms Leong.
This means having customers that can facilitate more data exchange with other businesses in the same data centre. A benefit of having such connections in close proximity is a reduction in the lag for businesses to deliver digital services.
Besides rising demand, work on SG5’s expansion started earlier because of concerns that Covid-19 could hold it back, said Ms Leong.
The expansion work began in the same month as the data centre’s official launch in August last year, and it was completed around the late March and early April period.
Equinix added that it has been selected by subsea cable operator Inligo Networks to set up a cable landing station for its Asia Connect Cable System subsea cable in Singapore.
The 18,000km cable system is one of the 14 key submarine cable systems that Equnix’s data centres in Singapore are connected to.
The cable system will provide low latency and high-capacity connectivity between Singapore, Indonesia, Australia and the United States. Its construction is expected to start this year.
There are more than 70 operational data centres in Singapore as at last year, with a total available IT capacity of about 1,000MW.
The Covid-19 pandemic has been driving digitalisation and, thus, demand for data centres globally. Such facilities are vital for the Internet and its applications, providing functions such as storage of digital files and transferring of data online.
But supply has been crippled in Singapore due to a moratorium on new data centres in place since 2019, said real estate consultancy Cushman and Wakefield. This means that the data centre market here is one of the tightest globally, with vacancy rates below 2 per cent, the firm said in January.
Under the moratorium, the release of state land for data centres and the development of new ones on existing state land have been temporarily paused for the Government to review how to grow the industry more sustainably.
Data centres are big energy guzzlers, powering servers and keeping them cool. They account for 7 per cent of total electricity consumption in Singapore in 2020.
The new centres will, however, be subjected to higher standards of power efficiency.
Ms Leong said on Thursday that Equinix plans to make a submission when applications open, and any new data centre the company hopes to build here will have energy efficient features, like those in SG5, to help reduce power usage.
Equinix’s nine-storey SG5 facility has been awarded the Singapore Government’s Green Mark Platinum certification for its sustainable design and practices.
The company has said the data centre uses a surface cooling technology that can reduce water and power consumption. SG5 also uses recycled Newater, such as for its cooling towers.
Since 2020, Equinix’s data centres in Singapore have also been using 100 per cent renewable energy, as it buys renewable energy, such as solar power, from various sources globally.
The data centre operator is also looking to bring into Singapore what it has learnt in the United States of potentially greener energy sources that have lower carbon emissions.
For example, Equinix’s Co-Innovation Facility that opened in Washington in January is exploring the use of hydrogen as a low-carbon energy source to help power data centres. This could include using hydrogen for a data centre’s backup generators.
But “it will take at least five to 10 years before hydrogen as an alternative is ready for commercial uses”, said Ms Leong, adding that there are issues to work out, such as how to store hydrogen safely.