Four data center operators have been allocated 80MW of capacity for new facilities in Singapore as the city-state looks to end a years-long moratorium on new developments.

Singapore has had a moratorium on new data center developments since 2019 (although already authorized facilities were allowed to be built after this point). However, this ban was relaxed slightly in July 2022 when the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) and the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) announced a pilot scheme allowing companies to bid for permission to develop new facilities.

– Getty Images/BardoczPeter

IMDA and EDB said this week they have provisionally awarded around 80MW of new capacity to four data center operators.

The four winning operators were listed as Equinix, GDS, Microsoft, and a consortium of AirTrunk and TikTok-owner ByteDance.

"Equinix is ecstatic that we've been selected by the Singapore Economic Development Board & Infocomm Media Development Authority to build a new data center in Singapore!," Equinix said on LinkedIn. "We are committed to Singapore’s net-zero targets with our green data centers and in strengthening Singapore’s position as a regional hub to broader economic objectives."

IMDA and EDB said: “These four awarded proposals were best able to meet our desired outcomes holistically and had significantly competitive propositions to strengthen Singapore’s position as a regional hub and contribute to broader economic objectives.”

The four proposals were selected for their ability to deliver energy-efficient performance (including liquid cooling), expanding international connectivity, anchoring ‘key compute’ capacities such as AI/ML and HPC in Singapore, and the promise of economic commitments to Singapore beyond direct data center investments.

“We appreciate the strong support and active participation by the industry in this pilot DC-CFA exercise. The proposals illustrate the continued confidence and the applicants’ commitment to innovatively grow the DC industry in a sustainable manner and strengthen Singapore’s value proposition as a key technology hub for the region,” the EDB and IMDA said.

EDB and IMDA said there was “significant industry interest” in the pilot, with more than 20 proposals received.

“We aim to allocate more capacity in the next 12 to 18 months to advance our interest as an innovative, sustainable, global digital hub,” the EBD and IMDA said. “We remain committed to the sustainable growth of the DC sector and will develop a roadmap together with the industry towards the development of Green DCs with lower carbon emissions in support of Singapore’s net-zero target.”

When the pilot was launched last year, it was reported authorities would allocate around 60MW of capacity for data center development.

Digital Realty, which already has three data centers in Singapore, was one of the companies rumored to be interested but missed out. The company reportedly applied to build a 60MW data center under the pilot.

Equinix operates five facilities in Singapore. Its SG5 data center was one the last to open after the moratorium was introduced.

AirTrunk opened its Singapore data center in 2020. Microsoft opened its Singapore Azure cloud region in 2010; the region has three availability zones. This would be GDS’ first facility in Singapore.