COVID-19 shrinks global water metering market by 20%


Investments within the global water metering market will bounce back from Covid-19 starting in 2021, according to a new study released by market intelligence firm Northeast Group.

As cities and utilities face growing challenges related to Covid-19 and climate change, water infrastructure has not always necessarily been a top priority.

In the early days of the pandemic, many cities considered water meter replacements “non-essential,” and the market overall is expected to decline 20% in 2020.

Despite these short-term setbacks, trends that have been developing over the past several years are now becoming more salient to key stakeholders.

Along with the potential for economic stimulus funding, these factors will help accelerate the modernisation of the water metering industry, leading to an annual investment of $6.4 billion per year in 2029 (ex. China).

Another possible driver of water infrastructure investment could be infrastructure-targeted economic stimulus plans, in the US, Europe, and elsewhere.

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Proposed plans have included a focus on water, which at a minimum will likely include service line replacements and upgrades of treatment facilities.

Water metering could also be a beneficiary – smart water metering is at a level of maturity similar to electricity metering back in 2009, when funding from the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act (ARRA) helped kickstart the smart metering industry.

Similar funding now could help accelerate the trend towards AMI water metering, static (ultrasonic or magnetic) meters, digital water analytics, and other innovations in the water sector.

In the current water metering market, the majority of units are still legacy non-communicating meters.

However, the largest share of the annual market in dollar terms is smart water meters which are higher value meters. Smart meters will continue to gain share in both unit and value terms over the next decade.

North America and Europe currently make up over 80% of smart water meter sales (not including China), but ongoing global challenges including climate change and the pandemic will lead to investment in other regions of the world over the next decade.

Smart water infrastructure projects are now growing in the Middle East, Latin America, and other water-scarce regions, which will also contribute to growth in the market.

Chris Testa, research director at Northeast Group, said: “While meter deployments have slowed in 2020 in the wake of the pandemic, cities and utilities have also expressed increased interest in digital adoption.

“Smart water meters that do not require manual reads and personnel on the customer premise. They also offer other benefits such as leak detection, the promotion of proactive maintenance and even improved water quality monitoring, all of which are proving to be increasingly important in the current crisis.”

Learn more about the report.