Fresh-water scarcity prompts hunt for more from the air and sea

  • 09.11.2022
  • moderndiplomacy

Carlos Garcia foresees a world in which many millions of homes will get water out of thin air – literally.

Garcia is general manager of GENAQ, a Spanish company that makes devices known as atmospheric water generators. By condensing humidity in the air into usable water, such generators can help create much-needed supplies.

Supply crunch

Water, the source of life, is becoming increasingly scarce as the world’s population grows and climate change intensifies.

‘This is a problem we really need to tackle,’ said Garcia, whose company led the Horizon-funded STRATUS project to expand the market for atmospheric water generators.

According to the United Nations, 2.3 billion people – more than one in four – live in a ‘water-stressed’ country, which is defined as one that removes at least 25% of its fresh water every year to meet demand. And 4 billion people face severe water scarcity for at least one month a year.

In Europe, where global warming is already causing more frequent and severe droughts, scientists and businesses are developing new methods to generate fresh water from the air as well as the sea. The push is also driven by pollutants in underground water and the environmental cost of bottled water.

While GENAQ has been developing atmospheric water generators since 2008 and has customers in 60 countries, so far it has served mainly emergency services and industrial users.