Smart water and technology companies are finding a growing customer base in utilities and municipalities, which see data and analytics as critical tools for overcoming the problem of crumbling water infrastructure.
More than $20 billion is slated for water metering, data management, and analytics from 2016 to 2025, globally, according to Bluefield Research.
Mounting financial pressure that is forcing water utilities and municipalities to do more with less is driving this market growth, the analyst firm says. This has sparked an uptick in demand for innovative solutions to more cost-effectively manage billing and customer management, leakage rates and energy consumption.
“By zeroing-in on key drivers of operating costs, water utilities are optimizing their operations with smart technologies,” said Keith Hays, vice president of Bluefield Research. “The solutions are not new, as they draw from existing equipment, software and analytics tools. But a significant hurdle will be integrating legacy systems with new software platforms.”
These solutions also provide significant cost savings, too. In some cases they can halve non-revenue water leaks and billing errors, and reduce energy consumption from 20 percent to 40 percent. As much as 30 percent of water utility operating expenditures can be improved almost immediately through more dynamic and real-time system monitoring, according to Bluefield.
Smart water growth isn’t limited to utilities and municipalities, however. Private corporations are also employing IoT solutions to save on water bills and improve environmental management.
Fetzer Vineyards, for example, recently installed smart water metering technology from Apana that the winery expects to reduce its water use by a quarter.
The smart water meters, installed throughout the winery’s Hopland, California campus, will allow Fetzer Vineyards to pinpoint leaks and water waste incidents in real time. Fetzer Vineyards says the technology will allow it to avoid unnecessary waste and meet its 2020 water efficiency goal two years early, in 2018.
The smart water sector is expected to scale to $12 billion in the US and $11 billion in Europe by 2025. Other hotspots for smart water activity include Australia, Singapore and Israel, where water stress and established utility network operators are more receptive to advanced technology adoption. European utilities are at the forefront of smart water in terms of operational solutions, while the US leads in terms of metering.
Bluefield also cited an uptick of mergers and acquisitions with larger, more diversified players like Honeywell and Xylem moving deeper into the sector.
Last August Xylem purchased smart meter manufacturer Sensus for $1.7 billion. A month earlier, Honeywell acquired Elster Metering for $5 billion.
“Smart water is bringing a wide range of new companies into the water industry, from multiple sectors and value chain positions, which is fitting for an industry opening itself up to the massive potential,” Hays said. “We expect to see more industry consolidation over the next 3-5 years, as technology firms build utility track records and larger industrial players find synergies within their larger product portfolios.”