UNSW School of Photovoltaic & Renewable Energy Engineering
Photovoltaics Sustainability: Insights and Perspectives
Vasilis Fthenakis - Columbia University

Vasilis Fthenakis, at UNSW SPREE, 11 December 2023

Vasilis Fthenakis (71Min)

Columbia University

Vasilis Fthenak speaks at UNSW SPREE


Prof Fthenakis will talk about the three basic pillars of sustainable development of photovoltaics (PV), namely affordability, resource availability and minimum environmental impact and how sustainability research and applications have evolved over three decades of global PV commercialization. He will discuss real issues and perceptions that can create roadblocks to large PV deployment and will lay down a strategy and approaches to resolve issues and address perceptions. The availability of abundant, low-cost solar energy offers solutions to humanity’s big problems in the water-energy-climate nexus and creates new opportunities in the water desalination and hydrogen markets. Fthenakis will discuss how desalination and electrolyzer systems can handle the variability of solar and wind energies and how optimization of such systems for dynamic operation can reduce the cost of fresh water and hydrogen respectively.

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Brief Bio

Vasilis Fthenakis is the Founding Director of the Center for Life Cycle Analysis (CLCA), Adjunct Professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Engineering and the Department of Electrical Engineering at Columbia University and Distinguished Scientist Emeritus at Brookhaven National Laboratory. Fthenakis is internationally recognized for his leading work in the energy-environment nexus and renewable energy grid integration. With a focus on developing methodologies, models, and tools to analyze cleaner energy alternatives, he has been a pioneer in studying the environmental impact, resource availability and recycling of photovoltaics (PVs), accelerating their commercial adoption around the world. More recently, he broadened the CLCA’s research to explore solar-enabled water desalination and “green” hydrogen production. He is a Fellow of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) and a recipient of several honors and awards including the 2022 Karl Boer Solar Energy Medal of Merit for “distinguished contributions to quest for sustainable energy”.