March 5, 2019

Additional comments about border energy corridor proposal

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Here are additional comments by the co-authors of the proposal to build an energy-water-security corridor along the border between the United States and Mexico:

Rebecca J. Barthelmie, professor, Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Cornell University:

"Energy transitions are already showing how communities can move forward all over the USA – the energy corridor is part of that transition. Renewable energy futures are inclusive futures; everyone benefits from a cleaner environment."

Carlos Castillo-Chavez, the Joaquín Bustoz Jr. Professor of Mathematical Biology and Distinguished Sustainability Professor at Arizona State University:

"Building an energy, water, economic and research corridor across the U.S.-Mexico border brings to the forefront a myriad of challenges and opportunities that have not received enough attention by stakeholders from both nations over decades. The development of the science and technology and the identification of the sources of energy needed to address the challenges posed by the large-scale water desalination efforts needed for the creation of large sustainable agricultural farms that may turn around the region, are at the heart of this proposal. Such advances would provide the technological tools needed to address the challenges faced by the water- and energy-scarce communities of the world. ASU’s New American University model each year produces thousands of STEM graduates. This continuous supply of highly trained undergrads and grads guarantees the existence of a qualified pool of talent ready to tackle the challenges of the border project at the scale that it is needed.

"Creating education and research spaces for the members of both communities who are dedicated to addressing these challenges may be addressed by a fostering the growth and development of a corridor of binational research-active communities, by research and educational agendas, which can be carried out with the campuses of the Colegio de la Frontera Norte and the Mexican State and Private Institutions of higher education in the north of Mexico. The historical continuous role that has been played by campuses in Southern California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas is at the foundation of this project." 

Leonardo P Chamorro, assistant professor, Department of Mechanical Science and Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign:

"The infrastructure may trigger unprecedented economic development at various levels with potentially global impact. This radically new, well-posed concept for addressing border security also offers direct benefits in education and the environment. It is a one-of-a-kind solution. 

"Particularly exciting are the number of possibilities for R&D with synergistic collaborations between industry and academia across a wide range of disciplines."

Carlos F. Coimbra, head, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (and affiliated Center for Energy Research), University of California, San Diego; Editor-in-Chief, Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy:

"In urban areas such as the San Diego-Tijuana metropolitan region, there is a lively exchange of culture, goods, education, problems and solutions between the two sides of the border. UC San Diego has recently started several programs to increase its outreach and generate lasting economic impact on the entire region, which means affecting the economic growth on the Tijuana side.

"Farther away, the impact of this project may be even more visible in the short term. In order to develop the Southwest, a large-scale plan that addresses the energy-water-food nexus is necessary, and this project provides the motivation and the means to bring the necessary conditions for the sustainable development of this region that has renewable energy resources. It is also important to emphasize that an energy park that covers a good part of the east-west extension of the U.S. is strategic for minimizing energy storage needs since the west regions can provide solar power at the end of the day in the east, while the east can provide morning solar power to the west. Similarly, early-hour wind resources in the west can provide morning wind power to the east, and so on. One of the key factors in this project is the fact that the land at the border is relatively inexpensive, but the entire region is blessed with unique renewable energy resources that can help power businesses and economic development. The abundance of energy will also help move water around for agriculture, which is energy-intensive."

John Dabiri, professor, Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering; professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering; MacArthur Fellow; Senior Fellow, Precourt Institute for Energy, Stanford University:

"This facility can become a key part of California’s strategy to achieve its ambitious renewable energy targets, while also providing new jobs for the region.

"This project provides a rare opportunity to simultaneously address growing demands for energy and water. These challenges are especially pressing in our border states, but these states are also uniquely positioned to address them with creative approaches like this facility."

Jay P. Gore, Vincent P. Reilly Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Purdue University:

"Surveys to assess the most optimal use of the land on both sides of the border for agriculture, cattle, bioenergy, and wind and solar energy generation are essential.

"All of these factors can become available in the short and in the long term as determined by the market forces along the US/Mexico border, making it the greatest American innovation in the Western Hemisphere since the Panama Canal."

William K. George, visiting professor, Department of Aeronautics, Imperial College London; Professor of Turbulence Emeritus, Chalmers University of Technology:

"As one who was on the leading edge of the baby-boomers, I look back on my life and I cannot think of a single significant thing we have accomplished. The best reason to support this project for my generation is to finally leave something of significance behind us!

"Our grandparents won the war, were able to support almost free education for all children whether theirs or not. They built the great public institutions after the war where many of us work and went to school.

"Our parents fought that war, built great highways, went to the moon, and also were able to educate everyone's kids no matter how poor, and extended health care to millions of elderly and infirm.

"We boomers were the beneficiaries of all this. Yet, we have done nothing significant. We have left our children saddled in debt, both at a national level and to pay for their education. We have allowed our infrastructure and roads to crumble, neglected our great public universities and secondary schools, and allowed unprecedented income disparity. And neglected our neighbors. Our great obsession has been to complain about high taxes, with no regard for what they paid for. And complain about others.

"This could be our (and my) last chance to redeem ourselves and do something significant."

Beverley J. McKeon, Theodore von Karman Professor of Aeronautics, California Institute of Technology:

"There is a real opportunity to couple energy advancement, border security and technological leadership here, with benefits at the local, national and international levels."

Sara C. Pryor, professor, Department of Earth & Atmospheric Sciences, Cornell University"

 "This energy corridor will allow the U.S. to showcase the very best of our transformative ideas for a bright new energy future. The energy corridor would remove key bottlenecks that are constraining growth and development in this region. With this infrastructure in place, the sky is the limit!"

James Riley, PACCAR Professor of Engineering, University of Washington; National Academy of Engineering:

"The Future Energy, Water, Industrial and Education Park is an extremely innovative idea, based upon state-of-the-art technologies, which could dramatically and positively transform the U.S./Mexican border region.  I fully support the planning for its development." 

Martin Wosnik, professor of engineering; director, Center for Ocean Renewable Energy, University of New Hampshire:

"The most effective way to stem migration, including illegal immigration, to the U.S. over the long term is to create local opportunities in the countries that people are leaving. This project provides such opportunities for the U.S.-Mexico border region." 

Writer:    Steve Tally, 765-494-9809,, @sciencewriter 

Sources: Rebecca Bartelmie,

              Carlos Castillo-Chavez, 480-965-2115,

              Leonardo P. Chamorro, 

              Carlos F. Coimbra, 858-534-4285,

              John O. Dabiri, 650-721-5311,

              William George,

              Jay Gore, 765-494-0061,     

              Beverly McKeon, 626-395-4426,

              Sara Pryor,

              Jim Riley, 206-543-5347,

              Martin Wosnick, 603-862-1891, 

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