Keppel Data Centres Holding (Keppel Data Centres) has announced the next steps towards a proposal, announced in 2019, to develop a floating data center park, that may be powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG)

The company has signed an agreement with Toll Group to study the feasibility of developing a floating data center park (FDCP), and another with Royal Vopak to explore the use of LNG-to-power infrastructure in Singapore.

Artist's rendition of Keppel's floating data center park (FDCP) – Keppel Data Centres

Launching a data center park

Keppel has long been interested in the concept of a floating data center, and invested US$10 million into waterborne data center startup Nautilus Data Technologies in 2017. In 2019, it announced it was scouting nearshore locations for a suitable location for a waterborne facility.

In response to a query from DCD, a Keppel Data Centres spokesperson confirmed that technology from Nautilus will be considered, though it is also evaluating other options: “We have a few options on the table. Depending on the specific requirements, geographical location, and operating environment of the FDCP, we will deploy the most suitable technology. Nautilus’s technology is one of the options.”

The FDCP concept will feature a modular design that can be scaled up quickly based on demand. New modules will be fabricated in controlled environments such as the yards of Keppel Offshore & Marine and plugged into the floating structure. Newer, more advanced modules might eventually be developed and swapped in to replace older ones, which can be recycled or redeployed elsewhere.

There are several advantages to a floating data center park. For a start, it won't occupy space on shore in land-scarce Singapore. Being at sea also offers the potential to harness seawater for cooling, saving precious potable water. Moreover, Keppel Data Centres is involved in a separate project to capture cold energy generated from the regasification of LNG to cool data centers.

Singapore is aiming to become a regional hub for LNG trading, and a floating facility could be ideally placed to be close to the regasification plants to receive LNG and use the waste cooling available from the regasification process.

Keppel Data Centres and Royal Vopak will also conduct a feasibility study and assess the commercial viability of establishing LNG and possibly hydrogen infrastructure for the power and cooling plants as part of the FDCP. This work will be done at the Loyang Offshore Supply Base.

“The FDCP is envisaged to be the first-of-its-kind in Singapore and is envisioned to optimize energy usage by integrating LNG and possibly hydrogen infrastructure for onsite power generation. This would also eliminate reliance on the national grid. Furthermore, the adjacent LNG and possibly hydrogen infrastructure will potentially allow FDCPs to tap on cold energy generated from LNG regasification to supplement the cooling load.”

“We are also pleased to harness the diverse capabilities of the Keppel Group to explore the development of FDCPs as part of our suite of solutions for sustainable urbanization. We see great potential in FDCPs as a commercially viable and attractive innovation that conserves land, water and energy, compared to traditional land-based data centers,” said Wong Wai Meng, the CEO of Keppel Data Centres.