The Dawn of Smart Water Meters

Technavio analysts forecast the global flow meter market to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.45 percent during the 2016-2020 period. Emergence of smart meters and evolving sustainable water management systems are factors that are contributing to the growth of the global flow meter market. Along these lines, the vast introduction of advanced and smart flow meters is significantly improving the demand for flow meters in wastewater management facilities and even achieving an optimistic rate of investments on capital projects, according to Transparency Market Research. By the end of 2021, flow meters for water management are expected to lead the market as an application group. As a matter of fact, investment in water metering is projected to grow from USD3.7 billion per year in 2016 to USD7.5 billion per year in 2026, according to new research published by Northeast Group, LLC.

Flow Meters: on the front line of water management

Factors such as increasing focus towards reducing non-revenue water (NRW), retrofitting of aging water infrastructure, and the need for accurate billing are driving the smart water metering market globally, according to a report by Markets and Markets. The market is expected to grow from an estimated USD3.88 billion in 2016 to USD5.51 billion by 2021, at a CAGR of 7.23 percent from 2016 to 2021. Smart meters are replacing analog and other old technology meters, as these intelligent meters offer characteristics like real-time data management and remote access, adds Technavio’s report. Smart meters are being promoted in the residential, commercial, and industrial sectors to record the real-time consumption of the utility services. Besides, they help end-users in analyzing their consumption pattern and cost, thus enabling them to optimize the daily consumption of these services and reduce cost. Future growth in the market will be driven by the expanding global population and the resulting need for smart water infrastructure, rising popularity of smart water networks that is driving acceptance of smart water meters; stringent government regulations and favorable mandates; growing demand for automated metering infrastructure (AMI); ongoing evolution and adoption of the ‘Smart Water Grid’ phenomenon; and the slow and steady penetration of Internet of Things (loT) technologies such as SCADA in water utilities that offer real-time, scalability, connectivity, support and security solutions for water monitoring and control, according to a new report by Global Industry Analysts. Robust demand from utilities represents another important growth driver as more and more utilities across the world are investing heavily into ICT solutions for efficient operational management of their infrastructure. Another factor that is poised to benefit market prospects in the near term includes rising need for smart water meters in the unpenetrated agricultural sector offering huge untapped market potential, adds the report.

“Smart meters are replacing analog and other old technology meters, as these intelligent meters offer characteristics like real-time data management and remote access”

Reducing non-revenue water

In countries across the world, water stress is further exasperated by increasing losses associated with the water pipeline system such as leakages and illegal tapping. Frost & Sullivan stresses the importance of having a proactive strategy to detect leak and reduce water loss. Water network leakages require active leak detection technologies, setting up of required infrastructure including advanced metering, billing equipment, and an improved monitoring and tracking system. According to World Bank estimates, each year, 32 billion m3 of treated water is lost through leakages in distribution network, globally. An additional 16 billion m3 per year is supplied but not invoiced due to improper billing, poor metering or corruption / thefts.

Non-revenue water can be reduced through smart metering. Installation of smart meters helps vendors detect the leakage in pipelines and thereby take appropriate measures to reduce water losses. For instance, the aged water supply and storage system in the US has resulted in the wastage of billions of gallons of water every year, as stated by Technavio. The installation of smart meters has helped the vendors detect the leakage in pipelines and thereby take appropriate measures to reduce water losses. This has led to reduced water consumption by 20 percent and energy consumption by 30 percent across the country.

“All in all, smart water metering solutions will continue to thrive globally as a new era of water management dawns on the world”

By the same token, the problem of water loss has also become a great challenge for public utilities throughout the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region. Countries in this region are deploying smart water meters to help better manage water scarcity issues. According to a recent UNESCO report, non-revenue water in Saudi Arabia is estimated to be 20-40 percent; Bahrain and Oman are estimated to be approximately 30 percent each. However, all the countries in the GCC have realized the implication of water loss in distribution networks and have made progress in bringing these numbers down. In Qatar, the average non-revenue water level decreased from 59.1 percent in 2007 (real loss equals 33.6 percent) to 19.6 percent in 2012 (real loss equals 6.8 percent). Moreover, a recent report from the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) presents lowest ever water loss rate at 8.26 percent. DEWA has earlier managed to decrease water network losses from 42 percent in 1988 to 10.4 percent in 2013, as a result of it being made a priority by the DEWA management. All in all, smart water metering solutions will continue to thrive globally as a new era of water management dawns on the world.

Dana Hani
Content Editor & Researcher
CPH World Media