Earth Institute Staff Directory

Dr. Vijay Modi

Professor, Mechanical Engineering & Earth and Environmental Engineering
Faculty Member, Data Science Institute

Director , Sustainable Engineering Lab , The Earth Institute

500 West 120th Street
Suite 220, Mail Code 4703
New York, NY 10027

BIOGRAPHY: Dr. Modi’s current areas of research interest fall broadly under two themes. One, de-carbonization of the energy system, electrification of heat/transport), digitization, interaction of the grid or a local micro-grid with buildings/storage/vehicles/HVAC. Much of the effort is built through modeling tools that aim to replicate the key features of the supply, demand, transmission, regulatory and market systems. Two, energy access, energy resource and infrastructure planning for access and renewable integration, demand estimation and role of novel payment systems in breaking barriers to upfront costs. Much of the effort is aimed at analysis and field experiments that aid cost-effective access. His laboratory, the Quadracci Sustainable Engineering Lab (QSEL), has been responsible for innovations such as a low-cost lead-acid charge/discharge circuit for solar lanterns (2005), fully digital pay-as-you-go minigrids (Sharedsolar) that have been continuously operating as pilots since 2011, battery-less PAYG smallholder irrigation systems (2013-15) and widely used tools such as “Network Planner” for making technology choices under demographic, demand and geographic variations. Finally his laboratory has been responsible for a free open-source app called FormHub, used over a million times for assessing field data. Most recently he has worked on larger scale electricity and natural gas networks, their long-term cost/benefits and impact on access to energy, fertilizer and industrial growth.
While his early work was on heat transfer, cooling towers, gas turbines, computational fluid dynamics and micro-electro-mechanical systems, his recent work has been on energy infrastructure design & planning; solar energy; energy efficiency in agriculture, and data analytics spanning from urban settings to remote rural settings. He is currently working closely with city and national agencies/utilities to understand how energy services can be more accessible, more efficient and cleaner. His recent project on minigrids is providing a unique understanding of consumer behavior, demand for energy, and business models for deploying energy solutions and energy efficiency.