US technology that can harvest drinking water from “Thin air” using the power of the sun is set to be trialled in Australia, with backing from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency.

ARENA said on Monday that was providing $420,000 in funding to Arizona-based Zero Mass Water to test 150 of its solar-powered SOURCE drinking water systems across Australia, including Sydney, Perth, Adelaide and regional and remotes towns and communities.

As well as providing a reliable source of potable water when and where it’s needed – regardless of the existing infrastructure – the pilot aims to reduce plastic bottled water usage, and cut the high energy costs associated with the supply of water.

Air is drawn into the units by a fan, the water vapour is collected in a condenser, then flows into a reservoir, where calcium and magnesium is added to make the water more alkaline, and better tasting.

“Condensing water from moisture in the air, is viable if I was on a desert island, I had lots of money and there was no other source of fresh water and I was going to die,” he said.

“If am able to go to the supermarket and buy a bottle of water that’s the other alternative, the third alternative may be, I can just find some poor quality water and boil it and make it safe to drink.”

“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.”