The Singapore government plans to invest S$100mn (approx. £48mn) in major research projects designed to promote energy efficiency in buildings, including the construction and management of data centres.

Revealed at the first Energy Technology Roadmap Symposium, held at the Suntec City Convention Centre, the Green Data Centre Research Hub Programme will be managed by the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA), and will receive roughly half of the overall funding.

Singapore currently hosts 58% of Southeast Asia’s data centre capacity, and these facilities consume around 7% of Singapore’s total electricity, according to the National Research Foundation (NRF). The aim of the 15 year initiative is to develop technologies and frameworks through which the data centre community can progressively improve this consumption.

High temperatures and humidity make it particularly difficult to efficiently cool data centres in Singapore, and potential for free cooling is significantly reduced.

Kenny Sng, solution architect team leader at Intel, suggested that the government should look into cloud and continued virtualization strategies as an alternative way to improve efficiency. “It’s the little things that count,” he said.

The roadmap also plans to research the feasibility of carbon capture, storage and use. Emissions from data centres will be captured and CO2 will be extracted, stored and used. However, once again the geography of Singapore poses difficulties for storage as land is in short supply. Proposed ideas include using the CO2 in products like hydrocarbons, or negotiating CO2 storage with other countries, but transportation costs may limit this option.

“In countries like Singapore where you don’t have suitable storage sites it is a good opportunity to demonstrate and develop these technologies, but there is a question of scale that will need to be addressed in the longer term,” explained Cecilia Tam of the International Energy Agency.