The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) will conduct an Australian-first trial of drinking water systems that produce clean drinking water drawn directly from the air using solar power.

ARENA will provide $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 $821,500 total project will demonstrate the technology not yet seen in Australia – a product that produces clean, renewable, infrastructure-free drinking water extracted from the air using solar energy.

ARENA CEO, Ivor Frischknecht, said the SOURCE panels were a unique way of accelerating solar PV innovation in Australia.

“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,” Mr Frischknecht said.

“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.”  

The SOURCE hydropanels are infrastructure free with no external electricity or water required for operation.

Instead of filtering or distributing mains water, pure water is produced by harnessing the power of the sun and the moisture in the air.

SOURCE hydropanels can produce up to five litres of clean drinking water on a typical day, depending on the climate.

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

Under the trial, SOURCE will be rolled out in 150 sites across Australia including Sydney, Adelaide, and Perth, as well as regional towns and remote communities.

The pilot will trial SOURCE in a variety of locations including airports, cafes, community centres, commercial buildings and sustainable properties.

The project will reduce the reliance on plastic bottled water while also provide accessible clean drinking water to rural communities with limited access to clean drinking water or electricity, or during droughts.

The pilot phase of the project will also incorporate a third party study to evaluate the environmental impacts of bottled water in Australia. 

Charlotte Pordage is Editor of Utility magazine, a position she has held since November 2018. She joined the team as an Associate Editor in October 2017, after sharpening her writing and editing skills across a range of print and digital publications. Charlotte graduated from Royal Holloway, University of London, in 2011 with joint honours in English and Latin. When she's not putting together Australia's only dedicated utility magazine, she can usually be found riding her horse or curled up with a good book.

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