UC, Mexico sign memorandum of understanding on renewable energy

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UC President Janet Napolitano and the Mexican Secretariat of Energy, or SENER, signed a memorandum of understanding regarding the development of renewable energy between the University of California and Mexico on Thursday at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

The memorandum of understanding, or MOU, outlines the nature and scope of collaboration between the university and SENER for the next five years. This includes research; visits from scholars, scientists and administrators, and development of graduate programs in the field of renewable energy. This MOU is part of the larger UC-Mexico Initiative based in UC Riverside that Napolitano launched in January to strengthen collaboration between the university and Mexico.

The initiative aims to unify existing UC programs and partnerships in Mexico, such as education abroad and research partnerships, as well as prompt the development of new programs.

“I’m excited that we’re starting off with the energy sector, because I think there’s just so much we can do,” Napolitano said. “(The MOU partnership) is designed to think of energy in a sustainable way.”

Napolitano and Leonardo Beltran, SENER undersecretary of energy planning and transition, signed a copy of the MOU in English and another in Spanish. Andres Roemer, consul general of Mexico, and UC Riverside Chancellor Kim Wilcox also participated in the ceremony.

“The deepening collaboration and projects we are developing between Mexico and California will contribute to the much-needed efforts against climate change,” Beltran said in a statement. “The ultimate goal is that Mexico and California work together in these areas that are needed to secure a more sustainable future and a long-lasting regional economic development.”

According to Napolitano, partnerships between California and Mexico are relevant because of recent energy reforms in Mexico. She added that they share environmental and food issues as well as cultural and historical backgrounds.

Beltran cited recent partnerships between the United States and Mexico as another reason for the MOU. In 2013, President Barack Obama and Mexico’s President Enrique Pena Nieto announced an agreement to develop renewable energy. Recently, Gov. Jerry Brown and Mexico’s Secretary of Energy Pedro Joaquin Coldwell signed an agreement to collaborate in the field.

Under the MOU, the university and SENER are not obligated to commit to assigning funds or assets to activities. Each entity, however, is responsible for financing the activities that occur within them.

The MOU ceremony was held at Berkeley Lab as part of a two-day visit from members of SENER, which included tours of various parts of the lab and meetings to discuss UC research and possible collaboration.

Berkeley Lab is set to be the site of the first application of the memorandum. It will host three postdoctoral research fellows from Mexico beginning in January.

“I am convinced that, by working together, we can make our countries stronger and contribute to sustainability,” Beltran said at the ceremony.

Contact Sonja Hutson at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @SonjaHutson.