European utilities are planning to invest over US$526 billion in water and wastewater infrastructure between 2016 and 2025, according to a new forecasts from Bluefield Research.
A combination of drivers including utility market restructuring, water and wastewater directives, and improved efficiency have encouraged cities and public water utilities to resume the most aggressive investment programs Europe has seen since 2007. Bluefield anticipates annual water infrastructure investment to increase 23%, from $46 billion in 2015 to $57 billion in 2025.
“Water infrastructure needs steadily increased during Europe’s fragile economic growth. Now the region is poised for a renewed push in CAPEX growth,” says Keith Hays, Vice President of Bluefield Research. “After years of delayed projects due to macroeconomic instability, Europe’s water utilities acknowledge investments must be made to secure networks for the future,” concludes Mr. Hays.
Exhibit: Total EU Water & Wastewater CAPEX Forecast (2016-2025）
Source: Bluefield Research
Europe will focus its CAPEX investment in two key areas: wastewater and pipes – with 61% of spend allocated to improving wastewater infrastructure and the remaining 39% for water infrastructure. As much as US$256 billion will be dedicated to maintaining and expanding Europe’s 6.7 million kilometers of ageing and leaking pipe networks.
Europe’ highly fragmented municipal water market, with over 61,000 water and wastewater systems serving over 509 million people, has begun consolidating. Led by France, Italy, and the UK, the number of water and wastewater service providers dropped by 16% between 2008 and 2014. Bluefield expects this consolidation trend to continue – bringing much needed economies of scale, more efficiencies, and unlocking new funding for network improvements.
While Europe, as a whole, is investing in infrastructure, market conditions vary across the region. Southern Europe faces water stress from higher consumption levels and lower resources. Eastern Europe is focusing on wastewater while addressing cost-recovery. With more severe rainfall events expected, Northern Europe leads investment for flood resilience of treatment facilities and improved storm water management.
“Grappling with stagnating population growth and decreasing household water consumption, European utilities are becoming smarter and more resilient,” said Mr. Hays, adding “To get the most out of new technologies and deliver on performance targets, service providers must also commit to major CAPEX investments for underlying infrastructure.”