Solar panels mining water from the air trialled in Australia

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Each SOURCE hydropanel produces enough water to displace over 20,000 plastic water bottles over 15 years. Credit: ARENA

Solar hydropanels that can produce clean drinking water from the air alone, using a combination of solar PV and solar thermal technology, are to be trialled across Australia.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) will provide AU$420,000 in funding to US-based Zero Mass Water to deploy 150 of its solar-powered SOURCE drinking water systems across multiple locations in Australia. The total project cost is AU$821,500.

Instead of filtering or distributing mains water, SOURCE hydropanels produce pure water by harnessing the power of the sun and the moisture in the air. They require no external electricity or water to function and can produce up to 5 litres of clean drinking water on a standard day, depending on the climate, according to ARENA.

Moreover, each SOURCE hydropanel produces enough water to displace over 20,000 plastic water bottles over 15 years.

Zero Mass Water’s founder and chief executive Cody Friesen said: “SOURCE hydropanels provide a renewable, infrastructure-free water solution to the driest inhabited continent on earth.”

The trial will be rolled out in 150 sites across Australia including Sydney, Adelaide, Perth as well as regional towns and remote communities, across airports, cafes, community centres, commercial buildings and sustainable properties.

A third-party study will also be carried out in tandem to the trial to evaluate the environmental impacts of bottled water in Australia.

ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said: “Zero Mass Water’s project will create a product that offers a new application and market opportunity for the solar industry in Australia. Using a combination of solar PV with solar thermal technology, SOURCE’s ability to create clean drinking water could be utilised to achieve positive solutions around water supply.

“The potential benefits of this technology to the environment are important. This pilot project can produce reliable drought-resistant water sources to remote communities while simultaneously reducing the amount of plastic bottles that end up in landfill.”

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