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Water companies and the water sector face huge challenges over the coming decades if Water UK’s 2050 vision and the Government’s environmental targets are to be achieved.

• New report by Frontier Economics and Artesia, commissioned by Arqiva, shows AMI metering - that provides continuous meter read data - can deliver up to £2.2bn net benefit across England and Wales – six times that of alternative, ‘drive-by’ solutions 

• Connecting smart water meters to Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) is a ‘low regret’ investment under an adaptive planning framework.

• Report calls on Ofwat and water companies to facilitate an accelerated rollout of always-on connected water metering - AMI technology - in the forthcoming PR24 / AMP8 period

May 23 2022, UK, London: A new research report has laid out how the rollout of always-on connected water metering, providing continuous data - specifically Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) - has the potential to deliver significant benefits for the environment, water companies and society as a whole. 

The independent research, undertaken by Frontier Economics and Artesia, commissioned by Arqiva, concluded that the adoption of AMI can enhance customer engagement and experience, improve company performance, deliver better environmental outcomes and enable greater regulatory compliance.

Water companies and the water sector face huge challenges over the coming decades if Water UK’s 2050 vision and the Government’s environmental targets are to be achieved. 

The research  shows that through increased data insight and customer involvement, always-on water metering will help to tackle issues pertaining to the climate emergency, water scarcity and pressing customer and societal demands brought about by an increasing population. Building on the cost benefit analysis commissioned by Arqiva in 2021, the research suggests AMI can deliver up to £2.2bn in net benefit across England and Wales if implemented and used with the right level of ambition.

Screenshot 2022-05-22 221734.JPGThe research directly compared the benefits of AMI with that of Automated Meter Reading (AMR) solutions, where meters transmit to either hand-held or vehicle-mounted readers on a periodic basis. While all smart metering has a positive business case, this research shows that AMI allows far greater benefits and for these to be secured faster. The benefits which the different options were assessed on include adaptive planning and resilience, impact on company performance commitments and additional data benefits. In the event of water companies fully embracing AMI, it provides six times the benefit of AMR. Always-on connected water metering can provide the data needed to take action to reduce costs, for example through reduced leaks, and support water customers to take action to reduce bills.. 

Owing to the increasing reliance on data and technology to meet best practice within the sector, the research suggests that water companies should consider that any delay to their investment in AMI would likely impact their ability to achieve leakage, sustainability and consumption reduction targets.

In response to the unprecedented challenges that the water sector faces, Ofwat has asked that companies build resilience and adaptability into their plans. While aware that AMI requires wider investment, this new research by Artesia and Frontier recommends that Ofwat robustly challenge water companies on whether they have considered the entire spectrum of benefits which the most advanced metering options may enable. 

Ultimately, the inclusion of always-on connected water metering, providing continuous data - specifically Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) - in PR24 (Ofwat’s price review for 2024 which will set wholesale price controls for water and sewerage companies for 2025 to 2030) represents a tangible way for the UK and its water companies to counter some of the challenges outlined in Water UK’s 2050 Vision and to help meet the Government’s environmental targets. 

From a consumer standpoint, being able to see continuous consumption data and leakage notifications engaged those customers in understanding their use of water, leading to faster and cheaper leak reduction and personal consumption reductions as evidenced by those companies who have already invested. For vulnerable customers, the cost benefits analysis opens the door to innovative tariffing because even without usage based charging, the business case is still robust and positive.

Water companies and Ofwat are faced with a choice about how ambitious they want to be in the run up to PR24 and AMP8. The societal, environmental, and economic benefits of deploying the most advanced  technology, specifically AMI, are clear, and a lack of ambition will impede water companies’ ability to meet leakage and consumption targets and to secure the accurate and timely data required to help customers take action to reduce their water bills. The immediacy of the environmental and cost of living issues we face means that government, regulators and industry must work together to support and accelerate the adoption of always-on connected water meters.

Laurie Patten, Director of Strategy and Regulation at Arqiva

We know from previous research that there is a solid case for smart metering. However, what these findings illustrate is that a rollout enabling always-on connected water meters, specifically AMI, would better facilitate social and environmental benefits for society as a whole, driven by data.

Rob Lawson, Director at Artesia

Our findings show that AMI represents a low-regret investment and enables more ambitious outcomes for customers and society. It is more cost effective than AMR in achieving consumption reduction, leakage efficiency and carbon abatements, while also being a resilient option in light of potential climate and demand challenges in the future.

Rob Francis, Associate Director at Frontier Economics

The report will be discussed in detail alongside industry at a webinar hosted by CIWEM on 13 June 2022 from 10am-12noon. Registration is open to all via https://www.ciwem.org/events/smart-water-metering-unlocking-the-benefits-webinar

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About Artesia 

Artesia is a dynamic and forward-thinking company serving the water sector since 2008.  

Artesia uses a combination of extensive industry knowledge and expert data science skills to provide specialist solutions, consultancy and technical support in water resource management, water supply planning, asset management, and water conservation. 

www.artesia-consulting.co.uk  

 

About Frontier Economics

Frontier Economics is a consulting firm with over 300 economists across London, Berlin, Brussels, Cologne, Dublin, Madrid and Paris.   

Frontier Economics specialises in competition, regulation, and strategy across all major sectors and areas of economic analysis. The company also advises on all aspects of the economics of water including regulatory design, market mechanisms, investment appraisal, and environmental economics. Recent clients include Ofwat, UKWIR, Water UK, and many water utilities. 

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