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Pushed by businesses such as IBM – behind everything from high-technology water pollution sensing to water footprint accounting – water grids could actually be the next big business concept, set to be a $16.3 billion dollar industry in the next 10 years.
A new report from Lux Research highlights that water management can reduce costs and conserve a resource that we’re quickly running out of. Studies have shown that just by seeing their electricity consumption data, people will curb consumption by as much as 15%. Why not do the same with water consumption? The issue is developing the technologies and creating a smart water grid: where money on water is saved and money on business is made.
Lux estimates the smart water grid market at$530 million. Like the smart electricity grid,it offers a wide range of opportunities for businesses to become involved: water mapping, water infrastructure, water quality monitoring, smart meters and smart irrigation.
‘While there are physical solutions or lower-tech options available to help solve the hydrocosm’s water management woes, the scale of water needs and the lack of funds for a complete overhaul of the physical infrastructure also call for the deployment of emerging information technology solutions to address these areas.’
Earth2Tech reports that the start-ups who find success in this industry will be those maximising innovation and those who create technologies that address all five of the markets identified by Lux in an integrated way.
According to Drew Clark (IBM’s Venture Capital Group Director of Strategy) “demand for smart water solutions has dramatically increased in the last year. This is partly because of the Obama administration’s focus on environmental concerns, partly because the stimulus package is providing help with getting opportunities going and partly because of heightened environmental awareness in general. The time is ripe for creative start-ups as well as established technology companies to move forward on the smart water grid”.
While US water consumption has declined due to improvements in irrigation efficiency and the elimination of once-through cooling technology in electricity plants, we have a long way to go before we reach sustainable consumption levels in all other areas.