ABS Energy Research Releases Report On the Multi Utility Meter Market

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Utility meters are like bass players in pop bands – unsung and often overlooked, meters, like bass lines, are essential. All utilities require meters for proper measurement of and control over end user consumption. ABS Energy Research offers their latest report on Multi Utility Meters to highlight the depth, intricacy and latest trends in these ubiquitous meter markets.

There are 2.2 billion meters installed in the world in 2006, with a total annual demand of 178 million new and replacement meters. Annual global demand is expected to rise to 213 million meters by 2010 with an annual growth rate of 3.7%.

The new ABS Multi Utility Meter Report is a comprehensive study of the world market and contains demand forecasts for 184 countries; detailed meter market surveys of the 15 largest markets in Europe, Asia and the Americas, a survey of automated meter reading (AMR) deployment trends by sector, and a survey of metrology regulations for the meter industry.

Among the highlights covered in the report are the following:

  •     While the global meter business has always been dominated by a core of European companies – Actaris, Elster and Landis & Gyr, which are all owned by private equity houses -- smaller meter companies, which used to confine themselves to their own national markets, have become increasingly aggressive across Europe and in other regions;
  •     China has now become the largest meter market, due to the government’s drive to increase electrification. AMR is making significant headway in China. Demand for cheap digital solid state meters increased by 50% between 1997 and 2000, enabling easier data collection and intelligent communication with meter points;
  •     Water metering is crucial. Asia has the largest water meter market in the world, both in terms of installed meters and annual demand. China accounts for half of global demand. With a booming economy and a restless population, the Chinese government has made infrastructure improvement a priority. . Among the many measures being implemented is the commercialisation of the utility sectors and the government declaration of a “one meter, one house” policy. Water use in China is inefficient – over half of China’s cities have water shortages and industrial development is threatened. The crisis is already impacting the Chinese economy and the State Council says that improved water metering is important to monitoring and reducing consumption. This gives a fresh impetus to the introduction of AMR and intelligent or smart metering and growth will be very high. Some analysts believe water meter demand in China will grow between 15 and 20%;
  •     Countries that might be expected to be at the forefront of metering technology are strangely conservative. The residential market in Germany, for example, has around 900 electricity distribution companies which use almost entirely electromechanical meters. This could be attributed to the extremely high quality of these meters. Some of the oldest are 45 years old and still in service. Japan also has a high proportion of electromechanical meters in use in the electricity sector;
  •     Japan is a leader in the development of gas metering. Japanese utilities use Micom meters with built-in microprocessors to detect gas leaks, which have caused frequent fires in Japan’s crowded urban neighbourhoods. Tokyo Gas leads the way in extending the facilities and services which can be offered to the public via communicating gas meters, with a whole raft of new and diverse customer services;
  •     Over $23 billion has been invested globally in electromechanical meters, which represents over 87% of the world’s electricity metering devices, and there is a huge stock. Still, there is a huge stock of nearly 1.2 billion electromechanical meters still in use worldwide. Although electronic meters offer measurable benefits in terms of remote reading and data management and will yield savings in energy consumption, it will take many years for them to replace the stock of electromechanical meters. Replacement will eventually evolve by the normal attrition of electromechanical meters, although that could take some 30 years;
  •     From time to time, there have been job lot second-hand sales of large numbers of these meters, usually from American utility companies to those in developing countries. But this is a limited market;
  •     One notable example of a large-scale move to electronic meters was carried out by the Telegestore in Italy. This project inflated world demand by over 8 million meters a year for four years. This kind of project only inflates figures for a few years and then causes a huge fall upon completion. Because the entire meter park will be almost new and will need negligible replacement for some years after, meter demand will be very low after the projects;

ABS Energy Research's extensive report was compiled through a comprehensive literature search, the help of the regulators in each country, the energy projections and demand forecasts produced by 113 countries alongside assistance from governments, organisations and metrological bureaux.

For more information, please contact Melany Krangle at::

ABS Energy Research

8 Quarry Lane

London SW18 2QJ

Tel: +44 (0) 20 8432 6378

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