Solar panels can bring electricity to remote areas, and photovoltaic technology has improved in recent years.
These panels leverage waste heat from solar panels to distill and purify water.
As the panels pull in solar radiation to make power, some of the energy radiates out as waste heat.
The King Abdullah University of Science and Technology design directs that heat down into the first layer of water purification.
It’s essentially a very fancy stacked solar still — the researchers note the solar panel design purified three times as much water as a solar still, and you get electricity, too.
You might be able to deploy a more efficient solar power farm and water purification rig as separate systems, but the system developed by these researchers could be a major breakthrough because it can do both at the same time.
With more efficient solar panels, they say, this system could eventually generate 10 percent of the world’s fresh water.