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2024 Highlight Seminar: Vijay Modi

2024 Highlight Seminar: Vijay Modi

Date: March 21, 2024

Time: 12:30 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.

Location: Maeder Hall Auditorium

Topic: Energy resources and energy conversion technologies

Vijay Modi

Professor of Mechanical Engineering and of Earth and Environmental Engineering; Director of the Laboratory for Sustainable Energy Solutions, Columbia University


Modi works closely with city and national agencies/utilities to understand how energy services can be more accessible, more efficient, and cleaner. Modi’s areas of expertise are energy resources and energy conversion technologies. His recent project on mini-grids provides a unique understanding of consumer behavior, demand for energy, and business models for deploying energy solutions and energy efficiency. While his early work was on computational fluid dynamics and micro-electro-mechanical systems, his recent work has been on energy infrastructure design and planning, solar energy, energy efficiency in agriculture, and data analytics spanning urban settings to remote rural settings.

Modi’s laboratory, the Quadracci Sustainable Engineering Lab (QSEL), has been responsible for technologies such as “SharedSolar” and widely used tools such as “Network Planner” and a free open-source app called “FormHub,” used over a million times. In 2011, Prof. Modi initiated a ” SharedSolar ” project, the first smartly managed pay-as-you-go solar mini-grid project in Africa. Since then, 16 mini-grids have been deployed and 20 more are planned in 2017. Using real-time smart meters developed by Prof. Modi’s laboratory, low-cost, low-loss wireless meters with latching relays are made possible through the use of “Internet of Things” platforms.  A key aspect of this project was optimized storage management that considers variable supply and variable demand.

Modi received his Ph.D. from Cornell University in 1984 and worked as a post-doc at MIT from 1984 to 1986 before joining the faculty at Columbia University. He is past-Chair of Mechanical Engineering in the School of Engineering and Applied Science. Between October 2011 and 2012, he was a member of the U.N. Secretary General’s high-level task force on “Sustainable Energy for All” and he currently leads the U.N. Sustainable Development Solutions Network working group on Energy Access for All.

All seminars are held from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Lunch is provided at 12:00 noon.
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