As we put the finishing touches on the 2014 Flowmeter Technology Report edition of Flow Control magazine, I got to thinking about just how much measurements matter. There was a time when process waste was just that—waste. Now processors are finding novel ways to utilize their waste for energy, turning what was once “waste” into a valuable resource. And when a resource becomes valuable, it’s worth measuring.
Resources all around us are growing more and more valuable by the day, and this trend can be expected to pick up pace as the developing world continues to develop. A report titled The Rise of the South: Human Progress in a Diverse World, published earlier this year by the United Nations, notes that ongoing development of such hugely populous parts of the world, such as China, India, and Africa, will dwarf the Industrial Revolution in scope. “The Industrial Revolution was a story of perhaps 100 million people, but this is a story about billions of people,” noted Khalid Malik, the report’s lead author.
In India alone, it is estimated that more than half of the country’s 1.2 billion people are not yet on the power grid. As India continues to develop, and more of its people “plug in,” think about what this will mean for energy demand and all the measurements that go along with it.
Energy isn’t the only resource that figures to grow more scarce in the years to come. With the latest UN forecast showing world population will grow from 7.2 billion today to 9.6 billion by 2050, we can expect many low-cost resources to become increasingly more valuable, and thus require more accurate measurements. And this trend is compounded when you consider that most of the development over the next several decades will be in huge population bases. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, India, China, and Africa will lead the world in real gross domestic product growth rate from 2010–2040 at 6.1 percent, 5.7 percent, and 4.6 percent, respectively. China is home to more than 1.3 billion people; India is home to more than 1.2 billion people, and Africa is home to more than 1 billion people. Compare this to the United States, which is home to 317 million people, and it quickly becomes apparent just how scarce resources will get as middle classes emerge and grow in China, India, and Africa.
One of the big trends in the flowmeter space right now is the demand for custody-transfer measurement systems. Today, these systems are employed mostly in the oil & gas sector to ensure the accuracy of measurements as valuable fuel resources change hands form one owner to another. I can certainly see high-accuracy custody-transfer measurement being required for a whole lot more than just oil & gas in a world where the middle class is growing by billions of people.
— Matt Migliore, Director of Content
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1. “Indian villages lit up by off-grid power,” BBC News India, www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-india-23613878.
2. “Developing countries experiencing unprecedented growth, says UN report,” UN News Centre, www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=44371#.UpTV242U0QI.
3. “International Energy Outlook 2013,” U.S. Energy Information Administration, www.eia.gov/forecasts/ieo/world.cfm.