Zero Mass Water creates boxy solar panels that generate flows of pure, potable water instead of electrons.

It’s no accident that Zero Mass Water follows the tactics and philosophy of the distributed solar market.

Zero Mass Water makes money on those deals at the project level, Friesen said, and is constantly honing the core technology to make it more cost-effective.

Zero Mass Water also created a “Water purchase agreement,” equivalent to the power-purchase agreement that revolutionized the solar market by letting customers buy the output of plants but not the plants themselves.

“Our objective with this investment is to support a sustainable solution – we know water is something every community needs and want to contribute to new solutions to deliver these vital resources to those in need,” spokesperson Catherine Butler said in an email.

Conversations there led to Duke supporting an early field deployment of the water panel technology in Guayaquil, Ecuador, where Duke operates a power plant.

The incumbent tool for generating fresh water in places where only salty water exists naturally is desalination.