A smart grid is a transactive grid.
- Lynne Kiesling
Water And The Smart Grid

Several interesting articles on water and the smart grid:

The first, courtesy of Water Efficiency.net, examines whether or not “smart water grid” is just a new label for the water efficiency protocols that have been discussed for years and whether the smart grid (for power or water) must depend upon a centralized network, or can the principals of quality control, automated monitoring, and fine-tuned distribution be applied to diverse and distributed networks?  As the report notes:

“…For the present, the smart grid is still primarily a power utility issue, but the streamlining of operations and automation possibilities touted by smart grid proponents are applicable to water utilities as well. In fact, the idea of a smart water grid has been in the works for several years now, spearheaded in part by IBM’s Big Green Innovations campaign in 2007. In 2008 as part of a $20-billion IT-related water portfolio, IBM teamed up with Intel to form “a working group to study how information technology can be used to improve water management.”

Specifically, IBM decided to capitalize on the opportunity to mimic the path of smart grid implementation for electric utilities by upgrading water conveyance systems. Part of this smart water grid implementation involves the collection of information related to water delivery, water quality, and non-revenue water.

There’s another reason a smart water grid might make sense: the water/energy nexus. Because of the complex relationship between energy use and water delivery, “smarter” water use via increased water conservation and less water waste would allow water purveyors to reduce operating costs and manage water demand: two abilities not insignificant to big water uses like agriculture, beverage manufacturers, and semiconductor companies, as well as private and public water utilities—all of whom are keen on controlling costs by managing their water resources wisely.

At the seminars I attended, the consensus seemed to be that overall attempts at applying smart grid technologies to water resource management had been successful. Longtime readers of Water Efficiency are already aware of the many benefits associated with automatic metering (AMR/AMI), and at the conference the utilities that presented their experiences all substantiated what many of us already know—that adding AMR/AMI systems improves customer service, aids in billing and tracking water use, and can help utilities prevent water loss via advanced leak detection. On the other hand, many presenters admitted that, for most water utilities, the advanced smart grid technologies embraced by power providers are still out of reach—mostly due to cost and the unique challenges faced by water purveyors that can impact staffing and equipment replacement or retrofits.”

Second, a bullish report from Korea’s IT Times that global investment in smart water meters may reach $4.2 billion by 2016:

“…During the past century, demand for water has increased by more than twice the rate of population growth, driven largely by agricultural use.  In the face of continuing growth in water demand and a large percentage of “non-revenue water” in the distribution system, water utilities are increasingly turning to smart water infrastructure technologies as a means of improving the efficiency of their operations.

Advanced sensor networks and automation systems will enable more accurate leak detection throughout the water distribution system, and one the most important strategies for utilities will be the installation of smart water meters at the customer premise.

According to a recent report from Pike Research, cumulative global investment in smart water meters will total $4.2 billion during the years from 2010 to 2016, with annual market revenues reaching $856 million by the end of the period, a 110% increase over 2010 levels.  By 2016, the cleantech market intelligence firm forecasts that the worldwide installed base of smart water meters will reach 31.8 million units, up from 8.0 million in 2010.

“Water metering alone has a powerful conservation impact,” says research analyst Jevan Fox.  “Studies show that using water meters to bill customers based on their actual consumption cuts water use by 15% or more. When water suppliers add meter reading automation to the mix, the conservation impact is even more significant.”

Fox adds that numerous factors pose challenges to the wider adoption of advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) for water.  The water utility market is highly fragmented in many parts of the world.   Infrequent meter reading limits the cost savings of automation.  Labor issues can further limit the acceptance of automated meter reading.  Technology issues range from limited bandwidth for wireless communication to a lack of global technological standards.  Despite these challenges, however, Pike Research anticipates that the benefits of AMI will drive strong demand from water utilities worldwide…”

This entry was posted on Saturday, February 26th, 2011 at 7:07 am and is filed under Uncategorized.  You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.  You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site. 

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

About This Blog And Its Authors
Grid Unlocked is powered by two eco-preneurs who analyze and reference articles, reports, and interviews that can help unlock the nascent, complex and expanding linkages between smart meters, smart grids, and above all: smart markets.

Based on decades of experience and interest in conservation, Monty Simus and Jamie Workman believe that a truly “smart” grid must be a “transactive” grid, unshackled from its current status as a so-called “natural monopoly.”

In short, an unlocked grid must adopt and harness the power of markets to incentivize individual users, linked to each other on a large scale, who change consumptive behavior in creative ways that drive efficiency and bring equity to use of the planet's finite and increasingly scarce resources.