Vijay Modi


238 S.W. Mudd
Mail Code 4703

Tel(212) 854-2956
Fax(212) 854-3304

Vijay Modi is currently working 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 is providing 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.

Research Interests

Energy resources and energy conversion technologies, 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 project called “SharedSolar” which was the first smartly managed pay-as-you-go solar minigrid project in Africa. Since then, 16 mini-grids have been deployed and 20 more are planned in 2017. Through use of 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 takes into account 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.

Research Experience

  • Postdoctoral Associate, 1985-1986, Gas Turbine Laboratory - MASSACHUSETTS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY


  • Department of Mechanical Engineering, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY
  • Professor (2001- )
  • Department Chair (2002-2005)
  • Associate Professor (1993 - 2000)
  • Assistant Professor (1986 -1992)

Professional Affiliations

  • Member, American Society of Mechanical Engineers
  • Member, ASHRAE
  • Member, AAAS

Honors & Awards

  • Distinguished Faculty Teaching Award 1996
  • Great Teacher Award 1997 from Society of Columbia Graduates, 1997
  • McMullen Fellowship, Cornell University
  • Silver Medal in Mechanical Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology                
  • Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award, 1984
  • Tuition Scholarship, ASEE

Selected Publications

  • Yuan, S., Kocaman, A., Modi, V. (2017). Benefits of forecasting and energy storage in isolated grids with large wind penetration – The case of Sao Vicente, Renewable Energy, 105 (1), 167-174.
  • Waite, M., Cohen, E., Torbey, H., Piccirilli, M., Tian, Y., Modi, V. (2017). Global trends in urban electricity demands for cooling and heating, Energy, 127 (1), 1-17.
  • Waite, M., Deshmukh, A., Modi, V. (2017). Experimental and analytical investigation of hydronic system retrofits in an urban high-rise mixed use building, Energy and Buildings, 136 (1), 173-188
  • Howard, B., Waite, M., Modi, V. (2017). Current and near-term GHG emissions factors from electricity production for New York State and New York City, Applied Energy, 187 (1), 255-271.
  • Waite, M., Modi, V. (2016). Modeling Wind Power Curtailment With Increased Capacity in a Regional Electricity Grid Supplying a Dense Urban Demand, Applied Energy, 183 (1), 299-317.
  • Kocaman, A.S., Abad, C., Troy, T., Huh, W.T., Modi, V. (2016). A Stochastic Model for a Macroscale Hybrid Renewable Energy System. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 54 (1), 688-703.
  • Demierre, J., Bazilian, M., Carbajal, J., Sherpa, S., Modi, V. (2015). Potential for Regional Use of East Africa’s Natural Gas. Applied Energy, 143 (1), 414-436.