Global Market Insights: Singapore Water Treatment & Wastewater Recycling SystemsGlobal Market Insights: Singapore Water Treatment & Wastewater Recycling Systems
The Singapore market is ripe for new and innovative water treatment and wastewater recycling systems as it continues its effort to achieve water independence.
Singapore is a small country of only 5.47 million, lacks natural fresh water sources, and currently relies on four water sources to meet its water demand: 40% of water is imported from Malaysia, 30% reclaimed by NEWater, 20% rainfall collected in reservoirs or water catchment areas and 10% seawater desalination. Water sustainability and security are priorities for Singapore’s socio-economic growth as the country’s import contract with Malaysia is scheduled to end in 2061. As a result, the Government of Singapore has a target to acquire 50% of its water from reclaimed water, the NEWater Project, 30% from salt water desalination and 20% from rainfall collected in water catchment areas – all by 2060. To assist with these efforts, the island city-state has invested heavily in research and technology over the last four decades and has developed world-class capabilities in total water management.
With the development of major national water projects such as NEWater (recycled water), the Deep Tunnel Sewerage System (DTSS), desalination and rainfall storage like the Marina Barrage, Singapore is becoming increasingly independent when it comes to water. The result is a thriving industry with more than 180 international and local companies active in the market. Singapore’s strategic location in Asia has also attracted major global players to use the country as a launching pad to expand into the region as well as a test-bed for new water technologies.
The environment and water sector is expected to contribute US$1.4 billion to Singapore’s GDP and 14, 000 jobs by 2015.
Over the past decade, the Public Utilities Board (PUB), Singapore’s national water authority, has outsourced some US$3.0 billion worth of water infrastructure projects, such as the Deep Tunnel Sewerage System, Marina Barrage, NEWater facilities and desalination plants, to the private sector. In addition, the Government of Singapore (GOS) is encouraging industrial users to conserve and recycle water through media campaigns, legislation and economic incentives.
To supplement the Republic’s water supply, Singapore is importing water under a bilateral agreement with neighboring Malaysia, which gives the city-state 350 million gallons per day (mgd) of untreated water. Singapore is striving to be self-sufficient in its water needs by 2061 when the supply contract with Malaysia expires.
The water conservation and recycling equipment market is growing with the flourishing water sector and is projected to expand by 10-15% annually over the next three years. The current size of the market for water conservation and recycling systems is estimated at US$1 billion, and will grow as a result of a strong demand for government projects including the construction of new desalination plants, DTSS and NEWater facilities.
The recent economic upturn significantly increased water demand, and in the past year, some trade sources reported that their sales of water conservation and recycling systems improved by as much as 50%. The sector has also seen an increase of sales to the Government. Market prospects for industrial users are also good and future demand could be greater as Singapore’s economy is expected to continue its robust growth.
Between 2011 and 2012, the Singapore government announced more than US$584 million of new public sector R&D funding to address energy, water, green buildings and land scarcity issues.
Singapore’s water supply is currently derived from four main sources, namely, water from local catchments, imported water from Malaysia, NEWater and desalination water.
The local water catchments comprise of 17 reservoirs and a network of storm water collection ponds that help prevent flooding during heavy rains. By 2011, the water catchment area has increased from half to two-thirds of Singapore’s land surface. A series of pipelines are being built so that excess water can be pumped from one reservoir to another for storage. With these Reservoir Integration Programs, the yield from existing reservoirs will be increased. At the same time, advanced membrane technology will enable the PUB to undertake a wider range of activities in catchment areas without compromising the quality of reservoir water.
Currently, Singapore’s fourth NEWater plant processes more than 50mgd. NEWater currently supplies 30% of the nation’s water needs, and by 2060 Singapore plans to triple the current NEWater capacity in order to provide up to 55% of future water demand. NEWater is produced using state-of-the-art dual membrane (microfiltration and reverse osmosis) and ultraviolet treatment process.
Although Singapore has already put in place a sustainable water supply system through diversification of its water resources, PUB continues to invest in advanced water technologies and R&D work to look for even more efficient treatment processes. For example, the Bedok NEWater Factory was the first in the world to introduce the 16-inch reverse osmosis membrane in water reclamation in 2006. Another technology is the membrane bioreactor, which the PUB would like to use to streamline the NEWater production process and make it even cheaper.
As Singapore’s population and economy grow, demand for water will rise. PUB is responding by looking for more sustainable ways to augment the country’s water supply. As an island nation, the surrounding sea hold obvious potential, resulting in Singapore’s first large-scale seawater desalination plant in 2005 that was built and commissioned by Hyflux. Under a 20-year build-own-operate arrangement with the PUB, the US$167 million desalination facility produces 30 million gallons of potable water a day that is pumped into PUB’s potable water distribution main.
With the successful implementation of the first desalination facility, it is expected that more desalination plants will be built in the years ahead. As it stands now, power generation company PowerSeraya (PS) launched its 10,000 cubic meter per day reverse osmosis desalination plant in January 2008. PS’s plant is the first in the world to use the cutting-edge 16-inch membrane which results in a higher water yield and also cut operating costs, as it uses 30% less electricity than conventional small membrane plants. PS is interested in scaling up and building bigger desalination plants to supply the industrial needs as and when the PUB liberalize the water market.
In order to keep the city-state ahead in water technology, over the past decade the GOS earmarked US$348 million to fund world-class water research centers, innovation and capability development. The money will be used to train a new generation of researchers and help start-up firms turn ideas into reality. The first beneficiary of the program is the Singapore-Delft Water Alliance, an inter-disciplinary research center set up jointly by the National University of Singapore, Dutch water specialist Delft Hydraulics and the PUB. Other international water companies are also taking advantage of the opportunities and infrastructure by establishing operations here. Some of these companies are now partnering with the PUB to pilot R&D projects and technology trials.
US-based GE Water & Process Technologies signed an agreement to set up a research center dedicated to water technology at the National University of Singapore. GE Water will invest US$87 million over the next 10 years in the research center with a specific focus on water treatment and system integration, fundamental chemical and membrane application, and ion exchange technology. This new research center marks the launch of Singapore’s first world-scale R&D center for water technologies by a foreign company and firmly elevate Singapore’s standing as a location for water companies in the world.
Black & Veatch also invested US$60 million to strengthen its Singapore base as a hub for desalination and engineering projects. Several other international players such as Marmon Water, Siemens Water Technologies, Deltares and Kiwa Water Research of the Netherlands and local firms Keppel Integrated Engineering, Hyflux, Salcon and Singapore Utilities International are significantly expanding their scope of activities in Singapore. Their strategic investments highlight the remarkable progress made in the water sector, reinforcing Singapore’s vision to become a Global Hydrohub.
Since being identified as a strategic growth industry in 2006, Singapore's water sector has experienced rapid growth, with the total number of companies doubling from 50 to 180. Over the same period, Singapore-based water companies also secured over 100 international projects worth close to USD$6.37 billion. The water industry is expected to triple its value-added to the Singapore economy to US$1.36 billion by 2015.
The Singapore market grew at a rate of about 15%- 20% per year in the early 2000s. The price of water is high in Singapore, which makes conservation and recycling viable. In addition, the GOS has the money and intention to invest in water treatment and conservation facilities. Furthermore, it encourages industrial users to conserve and recycle water through legislation, the media and incentive programs.
Over the longer term, future growth is estimated at 20%-25% annually. Part of this expansion is likely to be the result of new investments in the GOS’ desalination plants. More industrial users will purchase systems as the technology proves itself and people gain awareness and knowledge of various systems. Water conservation will become increasingly important in Singapore as water prices for household and industrial use continue to rise due to the use of costlier water from desalination plants. Therefore, there is room for significant growth in the water conservation and recycling equipment market in Singapore.
Best Sales Prospects:
Sales prospects are better for water recycling systems and technology such as filtering and purifying machinery and apparatus, wastewater recycling and treatment technologies and modular wastewater treatment systems than for conservation systems.
In the area of water recycling systems, the previous trend was "end-of-pipe" treatment of wastewater. Suppliers are now working with industrial users to segregate and treat their wastewater at the point of production.
Water recycling systems with the best sales prospects include advanced membrane technologies like membrane bioreactor systems, microfiltration, reverse osmosis, and water disinfection with ultraviolet light. There are also good opportunities for the sales of complete systems as well as pumps, valves, sterilizers, crystallizers and other related components.
Major GOS projects are likely to include desalination plants, NEWater infrastructure and enhancement of water catchment areas. PUB, Singapore’s national water agency, is developing Phase 2 of the Deep Tunnel Sewerage System (DTSS) that extends the tunnels to collect used water from the western part of Singapore with aims to have a new Water Reclamation Plant (WRP) in Tuas. The Tuas WRP will have an integrated NEWater factory to facilitate large-scale water recycling. At the same time, the Tuas WRP will be co-located with National Environment Agency’s Integrated Waste Management Facility (IWMF) in an effort to reap the potential synergies of used water and solid waste treatment processes while minimizing land footprint. Currently, preliminary design is being carried out.
The U.S. has the major share of the market for water treatment and recycling systems with an estimated 40%. Other major suppliers include Europe (35%) and Japan (25%). Among the European suppliers are firms from the Netherlands, Sweden, the United Kingdom and Germany. Australian companies also have a presence in the market.
The PUB, National University of Singapore, and the Dutch water consulting agency Delft Hydraulics signed a memorandum of understanding with the goal of developing a regional center of excellence for water knowledge. Delft Hydraulics set up a branch office here and is also working on a $3.2 million consultancy project on the Marina Reservoir.
Siemens Water Technologies, one of the leading technology providers in water and wastewater treatment, has set up its 50-man Asian Center of Competence for Water Technologies in Singapore. Siemens is in the midst of transferring its expertise from Germany and the US to Singapore, and the center is expected to carry out projects amounting to US$ 30 million in a few years’ time.
CH2M Hill, a Fortune 500 US consultancy company, has steadily grown its operations in Singapore over the years. The company’s staff size in Singapore has expanded from 10 in 1996 to 160 in 2006 with a corresponding jump in revenue. The company now uses Singapore as its regional design and project management office to serve Southeast Asia and India. This year, CH2M Hill was awarded the International Headquarters (IHQ) award by the Economic Development Board for its plan to double their headcount in Singapore due to strong growth prospects in the region.
Various suppliers have different strengths. In terms of wastewater treatment, the Europeans and Japanese have been more active in Southeast Asia than U.S. companies. However, U.S. technologies are regarded as more advanced and innovative. Additionally, the Europeans and Japanese are better known for their strength in desalination technology.
European and Japanese contractors installing water conservation and recycling systems have a tendency to purchase components from their home countries rather than from U.S. suppliers.
Local companies are also fast developing their capabilities in the water arena. Hyflux won two government tenders to build NEWater plants and Singapore’s very first desalination project. Besides Hyflux, other Singaporean companies, such as Keppel Engineering, SembCorp, Dayen Environmental, Salcon and Singapore Utilities International, are also active players.
At least 130 companies currently compete in Singapore. Major U.S. companies that have a presence in Singapore include GE Water, Black & Veatch, CH2M Hill, ITT and 3M.
The market positions of various suppliers of water treatment and recycling systems are not expected to change in the foreseeable future. The market is becoming increasingly competitive, and technology differences in the industry are narrowing. The firms that are the most aggressive, cost competitive, and offer the best service/support will likely be more successful.
Buyers of water treatment and recycling systems in Singapore are very receptive to U.S. products. The U.S. has a good reputation for innovative technology and quality products.
An important end-user of water treatment and recycling equipment is the GOS, i.e., the Public Utilities Board under the purview of the Ministry of The Environment and Water Resources. Key contacts of the GOS agencies are included in the "Reference & Key Contacts" section of this report.
Singapore’s fourth and latest NEWater plant opened in May 2010. The contract for the construction of the fourth NEWater plant was awarded to Sembcorp Utilities in late 2007. Two other NEWater plants – Kranji and Bedok – will undergo large-scale expansion in the near future. The four plants’ combined capacity means NEWater will meet 30% of Singapore’s water needs. Other projects to be undertaken by the PUB can be viewed at http://www.pub.gov.sg/tenders/Pages/TendersHome.aspx.
Companies that are part of the value chain of the water industry, spanning from upstream component players (e.g. membrane and pumps manufacturers), equipment OEMs, and system integrators, to downstream engineering, procurement and construction players and project developers are constantly seeking new innovations and technologies.
The other key end-user is the industrial sector. Non-manufacturing buyers include construction sites, hotels and restaurants. The electronics, chemical and petroleum industries are among the largest users in the manufacturing sector. Currently, Singapore’s water demand is about 400 million gallons a day (mgd), with domestic water consumption accounting for about 45% of total water use, and nondomestic consumption accounting for the remaining 55%.
One of the companies interviewed for this study suggested that new-to-market U.S. companies focus their efforts on breaking into the industrial market. The GOS desalination projects are "one-time" activities, while there is more potential for on-going business in the industrial sector. There is significant room for growth in this sector with many US$6-12 million dollar projects to be implemented. In addition, many local companies are also venturing overseas to clinch water projects in China, India, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam and the Middle East, particularly in Saudi Arabia, UAE and Qatar.
Finding prospective partners in Singapore poses minimal hurdles for U.S. companies as many Singaporean firms are aggressive when it comes to representing new products and usually respond favorably to new opportunities. In fact, many American exporters use agents or distributors based in Singapore to work on the local market but also ASEAN as a whole. In addition, most local companies are also open to non-traditional representational opportunities such as forming a joint-venture or licensing based local manufacturing.
Technology, price and after-sales service are the main selling factors in Singapore. Prospective exporters to Singapore should be aware that competition is strong and that buyers expect good after-sales service. Selling techniques vary depending on the industry and product involved. However, they are comparable to the techniques used in any other sophisticated market. It is also important for U.S. firms to visit their representatives and maintain a good relationship with them.
Appointment of Distributor/Agents: there is no special legislation in Singapore covering agency agreements. In the absence of this, Singapore’s Common Law of Practice applies.
Methods of Operation for American Companies: the principal methods of operations for American companies in the Singapore market are through:
- A branch of the American firm or an associated company incorporated as a full subsidiary based in Singapore with a representative sent out from the United States and stationed permanently in the area. He or she may not be directly responsible for obtaining orders and making sales, but supervises local distributors and/or agents.
- An agent appointed in Singapore. Local firms which act as agents range from small trading companies, working on a small project basis to large engineering installers representing a number of manufacturers in several categories of water related equipment. Such organizations handle a large share of the water treatment and recycling equipment business and generally have branches throughout the area.
- Direct sales on an open market basis. This method is only successful if the U.S. suppliers have already developed well-established connections.
In light of the competitive nature of the local business environment, it is recommended that any new-to-market American company appoint a local representative. Once business has matured, the establishment of a representative office would be desirable to serve as a launching pad into the region.
Trade promotion and advertising: There are specialized trade magazines in Singapore and many trade fairs (http://www.sgmeetings.com) that could serve as venues to promote U.S. water treatment and recycling equipment and technologies. The major English language daily newspapers are the Straits Times and the Business Times and are available at http://www.asiaone.com. The business magazine that has the relevant features on water related themes is “Water & Wastewater Asia” published by Pablo Publishing Pte Ltd (http://www.pabloasia.com). The major Chinese daily is Lianhe Zaobao (http://www.zaobao.com). E-Commerce websites can be found at http://www.ida.gov.sg. Leads for local advertising and promotional service agencies are located at http://www.yellowpages.com.sg.
Financial: Shipments to Singapore are generally made under letters of credit and sight drafts, depending on the exporter's preference and the extent of past dealings with the purchaser. Standard credit terms are 30 to 90 days. The foreign departments of most major banks are well equipped to provide service and advice on matters of foreign trading and credit.
Quotations should be on CFR-Singapore incoterms when possible with prices either in Singapore or U.S. dollars. Exporters making quotations in Singapore dollars should consult their banks for the prevailing exchange rate. Singapore uses the metric system, so it is often beneficial for price/quantity quotations to be prepared accordingly.
Market Access & Obstacles:
There are excellent opportunities for U.S. firms to sell water technologies and wastewater recycling equipment into the Singapore market as the two countries have shared a free trade agreement since 2004. There are no duties, taxes or tariffs on imports to Singapore of all water related equipment products from the U.S. and around the world. The biggest challenge for U.S. companies is competing with suppliers throughout the world given the open nature of the economy.
All imported goods meant for local consumption are taxable under the Goods and Services Tax (GST), which is levied at 7.0%. Goods kept in the Free Trade Zone are not subject to GST, however it will be levied if the goods are later sold for local consumption.
Technical Requirements and Standards: The electrical power supply specifications in Singapore are 230 volts, 50 cycles, single phase and 415 volts, 50 cycles, 3 phase. American equipment for use in Singapore must conform to these electrical requirements.
Internationally recognized standards, such as the American National Standards Institute, are widely accepted in the market. SPRING Singapore (the Standards, Productivity & Innovation Board) is the government organization that oversees the formulation of industrial standards for almost every industry sector. Any queries relating to industrial standards should be directed to SPRING Singapore at:
1 Fusionopolis Walk #01-02 South Tower, Solaris, Singapore 138628
Tel: (65) 6278-6666 , Fax: (65) 6278-6667
Contact: Mr. Adrian Goh, Director, Standardization Division, email: Adrian_Goh@spring.gov.sg.
Intellectual Property Rights: A legal framework that specifically provides for copyright protection of Intellectual Property has been put in place under the Copyright Act. A bilateral agreement between Singapore and the United States on the protection of Intellectual Property Rights has since been in force. However, American owners must also register their copyrights in Singapore before they are enforced locally. Infringement of copyrights should be referred to the U.S. Embassy for advice and guidance.
The following trade event in Singapore is appropriate for the promotion of all aspects of the water and wastewater recycling systems and equipment:
Name of Event: Singapore International Water Week
Date: July 10 – 14, 2016
Show Website: http://www.siww.com.sg
Contact: Carolyn Carniaux, Project Manager
Kallman Worldwide, Inc.
Tel: +1 201 251 2600 x 135
Fax: +1 201 251 2760
Venue: Suntec Singapore
Profile: The 7th Singapore International Water Week will take place in July 2016 and will continue to be co-located with the World Cities Summit and CleanEnviron Summit Singapore to provide a more holistic approaches for sharing and co-creating innovative water solutions in the broader context of urban sustainability.
The Singapore International Water Week (SIWW) gathers global water leaders and practitioners from both public and private sectors to engage in discussion and debate, network with key industry players, showcase leading-edge technologies and best practices, and identify practical methodologies to address the world’s most pressing water issues.
References & Key Contacts:
For More Information
(A) Government and Statutory Agencies:
Ministry of The Environment and Water Resources
40 Scotts Road
#24-00 Environment Building
Tel: (65) 6731-9000
Fax: (65) 6731-9456
Contact: Ms. NG Mei Ling, Director, Water Studies Division
Public Utilities Board
40 Scotts Road
#15-01 Environment Building
Tel: (65) 6235-8888
Fax: (65) 6235-2118
Contact: Mr. Harry SEAH, Director, Technology & Water Quality
Public Utilities Board
Engineering, Development and Procurement - Projects
Contact: Mr. YOUNG Joo Chye, Director
(B) Trade Associations:
Singapore Water Association
80 Toh Guan Road East
Tel: (65) 6515-0812
Fax: (65) 6515-0813
Web Site: http://www.swa.org.sg
Contact: Ms. Cecilia TAN, Manager
Waste Management and Recycling Association of Singapore
1 Hoe Chiang Rd
Tel: (65) 6222-5328
Fax: (65) 6222-5848
Web Site: http://www.wmras.org.sg
Contact: Ms. Melissa Tan, Chairman
The U.S. Commercial Service in Singapore can be contacted via e-mail at: Sherry.email@example.com ; Phone: (65) 6476-9037; Fax: (65) 6476-9080 or visit our website: http://www.export.gov/singapore/
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With its network of offices across the United States and in more than 80 countries, the U.S. Commercial Service of the U.S. Department of Commerce utilizes its global presence and international marketing expertise to help U.S. companies sell their products and services worldwide. Locate the U.S. Commercial Service trade specialist in the U.S. nearest you by visiting http://www.export.gov/.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this report is intended to be of assistance to U.S. exporters. While we make every effort to ensure its accuracy, neither the United States government nor any of its employees make any representation as to the accuracy or completeness of information in this or any other United States government document. Readers are advised to independently verify any information prior to reliance thereon. The information provided in this report does not constitute legal advice.
International copyright, U.S. Department of Commerce, 2008. All rights reserved outside of the United States. Prepared by our U.S. Embassies abroad. With its network of 108 offices across the United States and in more than 75 countries, the U.S. Commercial Service of the U.S. Department of Commerce utilizes its global presence and international marketing expertise to help U.S. companies sell their products and services worldwide. Locate the U.S. Commercial Service trade specialist in the U.S. nearest you by visiting http://export.gov/usoffices.
Singapore Water and Wastewater Market Research