Energy, water, food: The 3-headed monster we simply can't ignore
By Liz Enbysk
SGN Managing Editor
Our job is to stay ahead of trends. Not just to alert you, but also to collect the resources you need to stay on top of those developments. That's why in the last year or so we've launched channels about DMS, about Grid Optimization, and about Electronomics.
Now we're announcing a channel, sponsored by Sensus, about a growing issue that intersects electric power but transcends it as well.
Getting on the phone with folks from Sensus to talk about the idea of a Smart Water channel, we expected to hear a lot about smart water meters. After all, the Raleigh, N.C.-based company has been in the utility metering business for over a century. And its new iPERL water management system is state-of-the-art technology for the emerging smart grid for water.
But we heard much more.
From its vantage point as a thought leader in water metering and evolving smart water networks, Sensus understands the sustainability crisis looming worldwide and the critical role that water - or lack of it - plays. Simply put, you've got to have large volumes of water to produce energy. And lots of readily available and low-cost energy is essential to treat and distribute water. When you consider that agriculture -- and food production and distribution -- are all water and energy dependent, you can see where this is going.
What's the solution?
We already talk a lot about energy efficiency. Until someone figures out a cost-effective way to desalinate ocean water and get it where it's needed, conservation of freshwater becomes key. And to monitor water consumption, you've got to be able to measure it, which is where the smart grid for water concept and advanced technologies that companies like Sensus are developing enter the picture.
In many ways the call to action on smart water systems echoes the call for modernization of the electric grid to ensure economic health, security and well-being. Like the electric grid, water systems tend to be old and patchwork. Non-revenue water is a huge issue for many utilities. For instance, broken and leaking water pipes lead to the loss of millions of liters of water in the UK every day, according to a BBC report. Some water companies are losing up to 40% of their final product in leakage through pipes, and no one is doing better than 15% at the very best, one expert told BBC.
Leak detection and identifying water theft are problems that sensing technologies in two-way smart water meters and smart water networks can help solve - but of course both awareness and investment are required.
Fortunately, pioneering utilities and solution providers already have the three-headed monster in their sites. You'll find examples and many more resources on this topic - case studies, research, technologies, market forecasts -- in our new Smart Water channel. And for organizations mulling the idea of water and electricity sharing infrastructure - sharing communications, sharing GIS systems, sharing head-end software, etc., we'll offer resources to help you understand why, when and whether that kind of partnership makes sense.
From our Smart Water channel...