Water sector awash with investment opportunities

Climate change, increasing demands on water due to global urbanisation and the legal obligations under the EU's Water Framework Directive could make the water sector an attractive prospect for investors in coming years.

This was the central message of an event put on by investor relations consultancy Carbon International in London this week.

Speaking at the event analyst David Lloyd Owen, MD of consultancy Envisager, outlined how environmental, social and legal developments could combine to see the sector take off.

He described how increasing water scarcity was beginning to force the realisation that we cannot take access to water for granted and how increasingly we would need to recognise it as the finite resource it is.

As global populations continue to rise and migrate from rural areas into cities, where per capita demand for water is higher, there would be increasing pressures on what water was available, he said.

The world is also seeing a fresh wave of legislation covering water quality and availability, with the European WFD leading the charge and developing economies expecting higher standards.

He compared the current situation in the water sector to that in the mobile phone and internet markets shortly before communication technologies took off in a big way.

"It's a fascinating business, it's not an easy one, but it's one worth taking very seriously," he said.

Pier Clark, managing director of regulated industries at Mouchel, was also on hand to talk about the opportunities for venture capitalists looking to take a punt on water industries.

He spoke at length about Mouchel's Technology Approval Group (TAG), which acts like a kind of Dragon's Den for the water industry.

As well as speaking on the general principles of the forum, Mr Clark took delegates on a whistle-stop tour of some of the more impressive technologies that had been put forward by those seeking investment.

These included an ice pigger - a machine that used simple slush to scour the inside of pipework rather than expensive robots, and a solar bee - an autonomous, solar powered pump that could keep reservoirs aerated and clear of algae.

Sam Bond



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