1. Water Crisis
Despite vast global technological advances over 2.4 billion people are still without access to
clean and reliable water supplies. Whilst only 50% of all people have access to safe
sanitation in their homes, such as sewerage and waste disposal. Surely during COVID, when
hygiene is so critical, such a situation is deplorable.
Wars for control over finite natural resources such oil, coal, and gas have led to
deprivation and suffering across the world. Yet there seems to be great hope in the advent of
hydro panels, which instead of electricity, produce water. In a world where the most basic
and necessary commodities for life have become increasingly sparse, clean and reliable
water can now be made available to many impoverished communities.
2. Hydro Panels to reduce Crisis
Source Global’s hydro panels create water out of thin air enabling water to then be
distributed where it’s most needed. CEO Cody Friesen invented the panels in 2014 at
Arizona State University. Each panel costs 2000 USD, and produces up to 5 litres of drinking
water per day. Each panel would have a life-span of around 15 years, and can eliminate the
need for more than 54,000 single use plastic water bottles.
“We take sunlight and air and we can produce perfect drinking water essentially anywhere
on the planet,” Friesen said. “And so we take water that has historically been probably
humanity’s greatest challenge and turn it into a renewable resource that is perfect essentially
Source’s hydro panels take in water vapour from the air and pack it into a form roughly
10,000 times more concentrated than in the atmosphere. Using the warmth of the sun, the
molecules are converted into liquid water. The water is collected in a reservoir inside the
panel and is mineralized with magnesium and calcium for an ideal taste profile. It can then
be released as pure liquid water.
“Condensing water from the air is not a new idea…But the question is how the water is
condensed and with what source of energy. Previous attempts tend to be essentially big
refrigeration units that use immense amounts of electricity, inefficiently and at great intensity,
only working when the humidity is rather high.” Friesen said.
These panels are unique as they operate at high efficiency, are entirely independent of
infrastructure, and work at a wide range of humidity.
3. Impact in many nations
By 2018, Friesen had installed 40 hydro panels in Kenya, where members of the Samburu
Girls Foundation faced a daily challenge to find water. “We can now make perfect water, at
your home, at your school, in your community in a way that is really bringing it into the 21st
century,” said Friesen.
Source’s hydro panels have now been installed in 52 countries with 450 separate projects.
The company has raised $150 million from investors including Bill Gates’ Breakthrough
Energy Ventures and BlackRock. This type of technology could be hugely helpful in
countries like India because 800,000 villages don’t have access to clean drinking water.
Friesen cited World Health Organization, showing that by 2025 “half the world’s population
will be in water stressed areas.”
Obviously, such a system does not require expensive pipes and underground construction
projects with the necessary machinery to help. In the U.S, there are 1.5 million miles of lead
pipes still in the ground, and about 750 water main breaks a day, according to Friesen. Such
an infrastructure requires significant maintenance work and is a big strain on public
resources. The potential business opportunity, and benefit to everyday lives is apparent.