The famous Southeast Asian city-state wants to lead by example in sustainable development. As air conditioning is increasingly seen as an environmentally damaging way to cool off, Singapore has found another more environmentally friendly solution.
An underground cooling network in Singapore
First of all, Singapore is located close to the equator, so it is particularly hot and humid there all year round. The temperature there quite often exceeds 32 °C and this is getting worse with global warming. As Bloomberg explains in a June 9, 2020 article, if GHG emissions do not decrease in intensity, the temperature will regularly peak between 35 and 37 ° C by 2100! Singapore has therefore known for several years that it will have to expend a pharaonic amount of energy in order to cool itself down.
However, officials have now changed their minds by discouraging the installation of individual air conditioning units. Everyone has known for a long time that air conditioning is a disaster for the environment. The power consumption of this kind of equipment is simply maddening. As a result, Singapore built a gigantic cooling network in 2016 under the Marina Bay district, in the heart of the city.
Cool the water in the basement
The term “cooling network” should be understood to mean a network of isothermal pipes. However, no less than five kilometers of these pipes are present in the underground! Their objective ? Transport water at 4.5 ° C from the central cooling plant to the air conditioning units of some 20 buildings crisscrossing the Marina Bay district. When cool water comes into contact with heat, it reaches 13 °C. Then it returns to the basements to be cooled again.
According to SP Group, installation manager, this system saves 40% of electricity consumption in Singapore! The engineers behind the project have previously explored several avenues. These include heat pumps and solar energy. However, the cooling network using isothermal pipes is, according to them, the most efficient technology.
Despite its reputation as an authoritarian city-state, Singapore is taking a leading pole in the field of ecology and sustainable development. In 2017, the city saw the emergence of the world’s first ecosystem skyscraper. It is a 27-storey tower (190m) among other things intended to accommodate dozens of species of trees, shrubs and other climbing plants. That same year, another amazing project aimed to filter and recycle wastewater before bottling it for sale was launched!