The unbearable summer weather in Taiwan is often caused by humidity, which creates an excruciating feeling when the high water vapor content in the air is met with the obstinately high temperature. However, a Chilean startup has discovered the advantage of a high humidity environment, and managed to obtain drinking water from the air using solar energy and hydropanels, where the new plant is able to produce 10,000L of water per month.
Chilean solar developer Lader Energy has unfolded a new solution AWA Solar, which is a solar water resource program that integrates hydropanels with photovoltaic and solar thermal technology to produce drinking water by condensing the moisture collected from the air. The developer has also established the first solar water resource plant in the country that is able to produce 10,000L of water from the air each month.
The research team invested US$250K into the program and installed 62 units of hydropanels, though no information has been provided on the cost of installation and the lifespan. Andres Vasquez, Director of Business Development for Lader Energy, commented that the intercepted and stored water will be calcified and mineralized, and the relevant equipment is configured with various solar water purifiers and water circulation systems to produce high quality drinking water through UV disinfection, coir, and activated carbon filters.
Lader Energy is also planning for a commercial model that sells water instead of systems, and is capable of selling 33K bottles of water (capacity currently unknown) each month during the first phase. The developer commented that the water will be sold in different locations, including retail stores, small markets, and restaurants, apart from its official site, and each bottle of water will be priced at about US$1.1-1.4, which equals to roughly NT$30. However, Catalina Kissling, Legal Director of Lader Energy, expressed that 10% of the revenue will be used to establish hydropanels in areas with water scarcity.
Lader Energy is also hoping to expand on the scale of the plant, and has planned to achieve a threefold increase in the production volume of water within this year, as well as construct another solar water resource plant in Colombia. Vasquez commented that the developer aims to build two more plants in 2022 alongside the new plant in Colombia in the hope of penetrating into the Peruvian market.
Obtaining water from the air might sound ridiculous, it is backed with numerous relevant studies. Breakthrough Energy Ventures, co-founded by several business giants such as Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, and Masayoshi Son, had invested in US startup Zero Mass Water back in 2018, who also obtains drinking water from the air using the hydropanels installed on rooftops. The startup has installed the particular equipment in 8 countries, as well as the Duke Energy plants in California and North Carolina.
(Cover photo source: video screenshot)