Vasilis M. Fthenakis is the Founder and Director of the Center for Life Cycle Analysis (CLCA), Department of Earth & Environmental Engineering, Columbia University, New York, USA. He is also a Senior Scientist Emeritus at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL) where he conducted research for 36 years and directed the National Photovoltaic (PV) Environmental Research Center and several international networks. He is a Fellow of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChe), a Fellow of the International Energy Foundation (IEF), and a co-founder and Board Member of the Global Clean Water Desalination Alliance (GWDA) which was launched during the COP21 in Paris.
Fthenakis’ multi-disciplinary work is a crucial part of the scholarly landscape for comparing renewable energy technologies with conventional energy options and is assisting the current large scale penetration of PV into the European and U.S. electricity grids. Helping to put several energy technologies on a comparable basis with solar has been a crucial contribution to today’s key debates about energy and climate change; he has received multiple awards and distinctions from the US-DOE, NREL, AIChE and BNL.
Dr. Fthenakis is the co-author and editor of 4 books, and about 400 scientific publications on topics at the interface of energy life-cycles and the environment. One of his most noteworthy publications -authored in 2007-2009 a “Grand Plan for Solar Energy” a leading study published in Scientific American in 11 languages and in Energy Policy, showing the technical, economic and geographical feasibility of solar with other renewables to satisfy 69% of the electricity needs of the U.S. by 2050. Other representative examples of Dr. Fthenakis’ prolific work encompass PV module recycling (three patterns), the optimal approach to handling CdTe panels, especially during potential fire circumstances, and elimination of lead from soldered strings in crystalline silicon modules.
He is currently leading research on energy systems modelling, life-cycle analysis, solar desalination, and PV recycling.