Utilities push smart water metering market in Europe, study finds

The smart water metering market, if fully embraced by utilities, could be worth $13.2 billion by 2020 in Europe for meter manufacturers, installers and network and data management companies, according to analysts Frost & Sullivan.

Further, the U.K., France and Germany will have 57.2 percent of the market in 2020, Frost & Sullivan believe. While this figure is impacted by the speed of smart water metering adoption in these countries, they have a large share of the European population, and so a larger market.

The smart water metering market presents a significant industry convergence opportunity to participate in the global drive for carbon footprint reduction, increased efficiencies and strategic decision making,” explains Frost & Sullivan research analyst Seth Cutler. “The European market is no exception as water utilities look to run smarter and smoother distribution systems.

Government regulation is not expected to be a large driver in the smart water metering market (unlike electricity/energy). Growth will instead largely come from utilities looking to take advantage of the level of network/operational efficiencies and savings that can be made. However, there are a number of factors affecting the market attractiveness of each region.

In the U.K., a strong emphasis on business case development in relation to water scarcity is restricting faster rollouts. Once initial pilots reveal the indirect benefits of smart water metering, this market is expected to grow quickly. The U.K., with a current “traditional” metering rate of 30 percent, is expected to largely jump straight to smart metering.

France is heavily impacted by the decision of two major water distributors in the country, Veolia and Suez/Lyonnaise des Eaux. The high market share of these companies has afforded them the ability to rollout smart metering at a faster rate than smaller utilities. Partnerships and M&A activity is expected to continue and provide a key source of growth in the market.

The German market is among the most advanced markets for smart water metering in Europe. This is due to multiple factors. The country is host to numerous smart meter manufacturers, there is a strong tradition of water metering and a healthy investment environment. Germany is also host to the Open Metering System Group, and if this group was to make headway in its goals, it could have a significant impact on the market in terms of investor confidence.

The Iberian Peninsula is located in one of the most water stressed regions in Europe and this circumstance is exacerbated each year through seasonal tourism. This impacts the immediate perspective taken on smart water metering as it is positioned as a solution for these issues, rather than for the entire market. In a drive to create more equitable charging, smart water metering pilots have been deployed in coastal areas. For this region, smart water metering also presents an alternative to high cost desalination projects.

Italy, Greece and Malta are the only European countries to see a full smart water metering rollout occurring. While geographically small, Malta’s full scale smart water metering rollout may have implications on the rest of Europe as its successes and challenges are made known. A diverse utility base may slow down initial deployment in Italy and Greece, but it is expected to be temporary and this market should develop quickly with the rest of Europe, especially as a few leading utilities emerge.

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