Worldwide demand for water is rising at a rapid pace and, in the next 20 years, demand for water is expected to be 40 percent higher than current levels, with the growth in demand surpassing 50 percent in the world’s most rapidly developing economies, according to the 2030 Water Resources Group. A recent report from Pike Research finds that, as demand for water increases, utilities around the world will face increasing pressure to manage the resource as efficiently as possible and smart water meters will be relied on as a key element of future water systems, providing intelligence that helps system managers hold down costs and maintain affordable rates for customers.

“The demand for more accurate water meter reading continues to grow at a robust rate”

Pike Research forecasts that the global installed base of smart water meters utilizing advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) will reach 29.9 million units by 2017, up from just 10.3 million meters in 2011. By the end of the forecast period, the firm anticipates that 3.3 million smart water meters will be shipped each year, representing an annual market value of $476 million.

“The demand for more accurate water meter reading continues to grow at a robust rate,” says senior analyst Neil Strother. “Smart water meter deployments are picking up pace in Europe and North America, and we are beginning to see stronger interest in AMI water meters in other regions, as well. With losses from non-revenue water (NRW) representing $14 billion in missed revenue opportunity each year, according to the World Bank, the economic case for better water metering is compelling.”

Strother notes that several recently announced projects serve as good examples of the expanding demand for smart water meters. Thames Water, the largest water and sewerage company in the United Kingdom, will extend its smart meter and smart grid trial from the Town of Reading to the City of London. Meanwhile, Kennebec Water District in Maine is moving to full deployment of smart meters for its residential customers over the next 10 years. And the City of Sault Ste. Marie in Ontario has won a grant from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities to test what effect smart water meters have on residential consumption patterns and attitudes toward conservation. These are just a few recent examples, says Strother, of the rising interest in AMI for water metering in a diverse set of deployment environments worldwide.

Pike Research’s report, “Smart Water Meters”, provides a comprehensive analysis of the market opportunity for advanced metering infrastructure (AMI), automatic meter reading (AMR), and communication modules for smart water meters. The study includes an assessment of technology issues and market drivers, case studies, and company profiles including SWOT analysis of key industry players. Detailed forecasts for unit shipments and revenue, segmented by technology and world region, are provided through 2017. An Executive Summary of the report is available for free download on the firm’s website.