Luciano Castillo

Kenninger Professor of Renewable Energy and Power Systems in Mechanical Engineering, Purdue University

“Renewables as a Solution to Water for Energy (W4E) in Drought-prone Regions, and Access to Energy as Means to Achieve Social Equality for Developing Countries”


The frequency and intensity of droughts has increased over the last few decades, and it is projected to become more severe due to climate change. The last 30 years have brought with them some of the most severe droughts on record around the world. A recent example includes the case of Cape Town in South Africa. Our study focuses on the potential relief that renewable energy may provide for the heavy use of water by thermoelectric power plants, particularly in drought-prone areas. We have identified several regions that could reap the most benefits by shifting from steam-based power generation (water for energy approaches) to solar (photovoltaic) and wind power. 

In addition, we show the importance of access to adequate and diverse sources of energy on the distribution of socio-economic equality across 102 countries over five years. Specifically, the determining factors of access to energy is represented in terms of the energy consumption per capita, the Inequality Index and the Inequality Human Development Index. Here, we show that by evaluating the inequality factor versus energy per capita, countries with high inequality index are mainly located in the African Continent, part of South Asia and few countries from Latin America. However, high energy production countries (as is the case of Middle East Countries) do not necessarily mean high quality of life—as in many cases the wealth is possessed by few, resulting in high Inequality Index. 

(Authors: Luciano Castillo, Humberto Bocanegra, Warsinger Walter Gutierrez, Dev Niyogi, Josuenny O’Donnell, and David Warsinger)


Prior to joining Purdue University as the Kenninger Chair Professor of Renewable Energy & Power Systems, Luciano Castillo was the inaugural Center Director of the National Wind Resource Center and the Don-Kay-Clay Cash Distinguished Engineering Chair in Wind Energy at Texas Tech University. For many years he was a professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in the Mechanical & Aerospace Department. His areas of research interest include turbulence, renewable energy and bioengineering. He has published over 100 publications, edited several books on renewable energy and co-authored several patents (e.g., energy, health care, etc.). Some of his awards include Fellow ASME, the NASA Faculty Fellowship, the Martin Luther King Faculty Award, the Robert T. Knapp Award Best Paper Award from the ASME, the Best Paper Award from the Journal of Renewable Energy, the Best Paper Award from IEEE, and the Rensselaer Faculty Award (twice).