Vasilis Fthenakis

Vasilis Fthenakis
Brookhaven National Laboratory · Sustainable Energy Technologies Department

PhD Fluid Dynamics/Atmospheric Science; MS Chemical Engineering; BS Chemistry

About

217
Publications
93,273
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8,794
Citations
Citations since 2016
33 Research Items
5339 Citations
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20162017201820192020202120220200400600800
20162017201820192020202120220200400600800
20162017201820192020202120220200400600800

Publications

Publications (217)
Article
Full-text available
There is interest for desalination technologies powered by solar energy as arid areas are typically bestowed with good solar potential. In response to a US DOE call for solar desalination analysis tools, we developed an open-source solar energy desalination analysis tool, sedat, for techno-economical evaluation of desalination technologies and sele...
Article
Full-text available
This paper exposes the many flaws in the article “Through the Eye of a Needle: An Ecoheterodox Perspective on the Renewable Energy Transition, authored by Siebert and Rees and recently published in Energies as a Review. Our intention in submitting this critique is to expose and rectify the original article’s non-scientific approach to the review pr...
Article
Full-text available
Research on 100% renewable energy systems is a relatively recent phenomenon. It was initiated in the mid-1970s, catalyzed by skyrocketing oil prices. Since the mid-2000s, it has quickly evolved into a prominent research field encompassing an expansive and growing number of research groups and organizations across the world. The main conclusion of m...
Article
This article summarizes a life cycle analysis comparing “Direct Wafer” (DW) technology produced by CubicPV to conventional Czochralski wafers as well as the use of both wafer types in tandem with perovskite photovoltaic (PV). It shows that significant reduction in energy and environmental impact is achievable through the use of kerfless wafers in P...
Article
Full-text available
California has set two ambitious targets aimed at achieving a high level of decarbonization in the coming decades, namely (i) to generate 60% and 100% of its electricity using renewable energy (RE) technologies, respectively, by 2030 and by 2045, and (ii) introducing at least 5 million zero emission vehicles (ZEVs) by 2030, as a first step towards...
Article
While mechanical vapor compression is typically applied for the concentration of brine, new approaches that are less costly and less energy intensive are needed to facilitate minimal and zero liquid discharge. Several variations of reverse osmosis for high-salinity desalination and increasing recovery rates beyond the pressure limitation of convent...
Article
Perovskite photovoltaics reached record efficiencies in the laboratory, and if sustainably commercialized, they would accelerate a green energy transition. This article presents the development of life cycle inventory material and energy databases of four most promising single-junction and three tandem scalable perovskite systems with assumptions r...
Article
Full-text available
This paper provides a comprehensive assessment of the current life-cycle sustainability status of crystalline-based photovoltaic (PV) systems. Specifically, single-crystalline Si (sc-Si) and multicrystalline Si (mc-Si) PV systems are analyzed in terms of their environmental and energy performance, providing breakdown contributions and comparisons w...
Chapter
This article provides an overview of the various aspects of floating photovoltaic (FPV) system components and design, both for onshore and offshore applications. These include global growth, market, and potential. Special attention is given to experimental and modeled performance advantages as well as to the role of FPV systems in hybrid renewable...
Chapter
This chapter provides a concise overview of the developments in photovoltaic (PV) solar energy. It has taken nearly 60 years for the PV industry to develop into a 100 billion business, and it will another 10 of years to reach a trillion-dollar level, which is much needed for a transition to a society based on renewable energy sources. The complete...
Article
Full-text available
This paper presents a detailed life-cycle assessment of the greenhouse gas emissions, cumulative demand for total and non-renewable primary energy, and energy return on investment (EROI) for the domestic electricity grid mix in the U.S. state of California, using hourly historical data for 2018, and future projections of increased solar photovoltai...
Article
This article examines some of the basic questions about silicon module recycling: (1) What can be recovered from silicon modules? (2) What recycling technologies are needed? (3) What are the potential revenues for different recycling scenarios? And (4) what are the major challenges for different recycling scenarios? Three recycling scenarios are co...
Conference Paper
This article examines some of the basic questions about silicon module recycling: (1) What can be recovered from silicon modules? (2) What recycling technologies are needed? (3) What are the potential revenues for different recycling scenarios? And (4) what are the major challenges for different recycling scenarios? Three recycling scenarios are co...
Article
Full-text available
Desalination technologies and industry have advanced significantly in the past two decades to meet the growing freshwater demands stimulated by the compounding issues of both water quality and quantity in many regions of the world. As desalination processes are energy demanding, there have been many efforts dedicated to improve energy-efficiency of...
Article
The proposed active-salinity-control reverse osmosis (ASCRO) system dynamically controls energy consumption by operating across a range of feed salinity, allowing it to shift over a wide range of pump feed flows and pressures. ASCRO utilizes feedwater from both low-and high-salinity sources. Enabling a dynamic power consumption profile can enhance...
Article
Chile is one of the fastest-growing economies in Latin America, with a mainly fossil fuelled electricity demand and a population projected to surpass 20 million by 2035. Chile is undergoing a transition to renewable energies due to ambitious national targets, namely to generate 60% of its electricity from local renewable energy by 2035, and to achi...
Chapter
Photovoltaic (PV) systems are divided into two major categories namely: grid-connected systems that are interfaced to an electricity grid and stand-alone systems that are self-contained. The inverter is the key item of equipment for converting direct current (DC) electricity produced by a PV array into alternating current (AC) suitable for feeding...
Chapter
This chapter provides a brief account of the main types of solar cell and module in widespread use today. It focuses initially on crystalline silicon solar cells for two main reasons: their comparatively simple crystal structure and theoretical background and their present dominant position in the terrestrial photovoltaic (PV) market. The chapter c...
Chapter
Photovoltaics (PV), as fuel-free energy sources, are inherently sustainable unless they are too expensive to produce, are manufactured using materials that are depletable, or are environmentally unsafe. Measurable aspects of sustainability include cost, resource availability, and environmental impact. Assessing the sustainability of the rapid growt...
Chapter
This chapter discusses the production of silicon and thin-film cadmium telluride (CdTe) and copper indium diselenide (CIGS) photovoltaics (PV) that comprise most of today's market. The production of silicon solar cells requires silicon with high purity and high crystallinity, called solar-grade silicon. The chapter focuses on the status of Si PV ma...
Chapter
This chapter discusses the “sizing” of a photovoltaic (PV) generator and battery bank to provide an acceptable balance between reliability and cost is a major challenge to the designer of a stand-alone PV system. It also discusses batteries, charge controllers, inverters and explains how a stand-alone system is designed for cost-effectiveness and r...
Chapter
This chapter focuses mainly on electrical characteristics and effective mounting to capture the available sunlight. PV module design is by no means static, especially with the new thin-film technologies. A complete PV generator is, of course, a direct current (DC) generator, and since most large systems feed their solar electricity into an alternat...
Article
A recent paper by Ferroni and Hopkirk (2016) asserts that the ERoEI (also referred to as EROI) of photovoltaic (PV) systems is so low that they actually act as net energy sinks, rather than delivering energy to society. Such claim, if accurate, would call into question many energy investment decisions. In the same paper, a comparison is also drawn...
Chapter
This chapter gives an overview of a well-established life-cycle assessment methodology adopted by analysts in 14 countries which have been collaborating under the auspices of the International Energy Agency (IEA). Based on actual photovoltaic (PV) life-cycle materials and energy inventory data, estimates of energy payback times (EPBT), energy retur...
Article
Full-text available
Given photovoltaics’ (PVs) constant improvements in terms of material usage and energy efficiency, this paper provides a timely update on their life-cycle energy and environmental performance. Single-crystalline Si (sc-Si), multi-crystalline Si (mc-Si), cadmium telluride (CdTe) and copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS) systems are analysed, consi...
Article
Chile needs to increase its installed electric capacity to support economic growth. Currently, the total demand is 67,564 GW h and an additional 22,508 GW h will be needed by 2020 to meet the energy demand of industrial projects. The Chilean mining industry is a major electricity consumer in the country accounting for one third total consumption ov...
Chapter
Life cycle assessment (LCA) is an analytical methodology used to measure material- and energy-inputs, transformations, and outputs throughout the entire life-cycle of a product or process. This chapter presents a case study of LCA of an Amonix 7700 CPV system installed in the southwest of the United States, with comparisons of the estimated environ...
Article
Full-text available
Balancing authorities are currently exploring options for preventing potential increases in ramping costs of conventional generators in the grid by setting ramping limits on variable energy resources. In this paper, we present the methodology and results of simulations on the smoothing performance of battery, flywheel and ultra-capacitor energy sto...
Article
Full-text available
Understanding the spatial and temporal characteristics of solar resource variability is important because it helps inform the discussion surrounding the merits of geographic dispersion and subsequent electrical interconnection of photovoltaics as part of a portfolio of future solutions for coping with this variability. Unpredictable resource variab...
Article
Full-text available
Examines the importance of energy return on investment (EROI) as a useful metric for assessing long-term viability of energy-dependent systems. Here, focuses on the methods, applications, and analyses for determining EROI for solar power and solar energy technologies.
Article
Renewable energy generation in the All-Island of Ireland (AII) is set to increase by 2020 due to binding renewable energy targets. To achieve these targets, there will be periods of time when 75% of electricity will be generated mainly from onshore wind. Currently, the AII system can accommodate a 50% maximum permissible instantaneous level of wind...
Article
Full-text available
Photovoltaic (PV) electricity generation has grown to about 17 GW in the United States, corresponding to one tenth of the global capacity. Most deployment in the country has happened during the last 6 years. Reflecting back in time, in early 2008 this author and his collaborators James Mason and Ken Zweibel, published in Scientific American and in...
Article
With the projected growth in photovoltaics the demand of glass for the solar industry will far exceed the current supply, and thousands of new float-glass plants will have to be built to meet its needs over the next 20 years. Such expansion will provide an opportunity for the solar industry to obtain products better suited to their needs, such as l...
Article
Increased water demand and increased drought episodes in the Middle East and other regions necessitate an expansion in desalination projects and create a great market opportunity for photovoltaics (PV). PV-powered desalination has previously been regarded as not being a cost-competitive solution when compared with conventionally powered desalinatio...
Technical Report
Full-text available
Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is a structured, comprehensive method of quantifying material- and energyflows and their associated impacts in the life cycles of products (i.e., goods and services). One of the major goals of IEA PVPS Task 12 is to provide guidance on assuring consistency, balance, transparency and quality of LCA to enhance the credibil...
Article
New markets for photovoltaics are being created in emerging economies where rich solar resources can produce solar electricity at affordable costs. A case in point is Chile, a country with great solar resources planning renewable energy deployment to address the needs of an expanding mining industry and a growing economy, while preserving the envir...
Conference Paper
This paper presents performance and cost analysis of seawater reverse osmosis (RO) desalination powered by stand-alone photovoltaic power systems in the Arabian Peninsula. A PV-RO desalination plant model was analyzed using HOMER 2.81 and DEEP 4.0, in combination with technical and economic data from a KAUST study. The RO plant would produce 6,550...
Article
In this study, the environmental loads of 100 kWp cadmium telluride photovoltaic (CdTe PV) power generation systems in Malaysia are analyzed using life cycle assessment. The target renewable energy system is made up of CdTe PV panel, a power conditioning system and a balance of system. Life-cycle environmental issues were analyzed using major indic...
Article
Full-text available
Variability of solar power is a key driver in increasing the cost of integrating solar power into the electric grid because additional system resources are required to maintain the grid's reliability. In this study, we characterize the variability in power output of six photovoltaic plants in the USA and Canada with a total installed capacity of 19...
Article
This paper presents a review and assessment of public-policy options for supporting large-scale penetration of photovoltaics (PV) in the United States. The goal therein is to reduce the costs both of solar technology and of grid integration, so enabling solar deployment nationwide. In this context, we analyze the solar PV markets and the solar indu...
Article
The usage of valuable resources and the potential for waste generation at the end of the life cycle of photovoltaic (PV) technologies necessitate a proactive planning for a PV recycling infrastructure. To ensure the sustainability of PV in large scales of deployment, it is vital to develop and institute low-cost recycling technologies and infrastru...
Article
In manufacturing photovoltaic (PV) cells, health may be adversely affected by different classes of chemical and physical hazards. This chapter focuses on chemical hazards in manufacturing photovoltaic cells. The manufacture of photovoltaic modules uses some hazardous materials which can present health and safety hazards, if adequate precautions are...
Article
Research efforts have been directed toward photovoltaic technologies using "abundant" base metals such as copper and zinc (e.g., CZTS or more recently CZTSSe) to overcome the material constraint challenges posed by tellurium, indium, germanium and gallium in current generation technologies (e.g., CdTe, CIGS, a-Si/thin-film Si). These materials are...
Conference Paper
Power systems have evolved as countries implement energy policies focusing on energy efficiency and increased share of renewable energy sources (RES). At the forefront is non-dispatchable generation such as wind and solar. Traditionally power systems were designed for fully dispatchable generating plant. However, these powers systems are under addi...
Article
The potential environmental and health impacts of nanotechnologies triggered a recent surge of life cycle assessment (LCA) studies on nanotechnologies. Focusing on the energy use and greenhouse gas emissions impacts, we reviewed 22 LCA-based studies on nanomaterials, coatings, photovoltaic devices, and fabrication technologies that were published u...
Article
As the availability of tellurium (Te) is constrained by the production rate of its main parent compound (Cu), its potential supply to deploy CdTe photovoltaics (PV) merits investigation. Recently, Te-rich ores and gold-telluride mines have been discovered in several places throughout the world that will allow the economic recovery of Te, independen...
Conference Paper
Large-scale solar power plants are being built at a rapid rate, and are setting up to use hundreds of thousands of acres of land surface. The thermal energy flows to the environment related to the operation of such facilities have not, so far, been addressed comprehensively. We are developing rigorous computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulation c...
Conference Paper
We are proposing a model for quantifying the environmental impact from a non-optimal operation of conventional fuel generators serving as reserve capacity for accommodating the intermittent generation from PV and wind. Fluctuations in RE generation would necessitate fuel generators' up- and down-ramping and part-load operation, causing additional e...
Conference Paper
As governments worldwide look to increase the capacity of PV and other variable generation sources in their generation portfolios, dealing with resource intermittency begins to take center stage in the debate over how to achieve ambitious renewable energy targets. Variability o f the solar resource occurs across many different temporal scales: from...
Conference Paper
This paper will present data on the resilience of typical PV systems following natural disasters, and provide recommendations for integrating PV into emergency response systems. Information from multiple sources shows that during the October 29, 2012 hurricane Sandy, virtually all PV systems received no damage by the storm and, if not disconnected,...
Article
The environmental profiles of photovoltaic (PV) systems are becoming better as materials are used more efficiently in their production, and overall system performance improves. Our analysis details the material and energy inventories in the life cycle of high‐concentration PV systems, and, based on measured field‐performances, evaluates their energ...
Article
Full-text available
The Solaire Building has the first façade building‐integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) array in New York City. This paper presents the life cycle impacts of the Solaire BIPV and extrapolates its performance to other façade systems. Engineering diagrams, detailed material inventories and 5 years of irradiation and actual performance data in 15‐min interv...
Article
Substance flow analysis (SFA) of cadmium in Korea was carried out to analyze and predict cadmium flows, stocks, and future flows using both static and dynamic models. Cadmium is widely used in industry due to its strong corrosion and chemical resistance at high temperature, excellent electrical conduction, and low melting-point. Cadmium is produced...
Article
A high energy return on energy investment (EROI) of an energy production process is crucial to its long-term viability. The EROI of conventional thermal electricity from fossil fuels has been viewed as being much higher than those of renewable energy life-cycles, and specifically of photovoltaics (PVs). We show that this is largely a misconception...
Conference Paper
The majority of large-scale solar farms have so far been constructed in the Southwest of the United States due to the intense insolation there. However, the high cost of electricity and the desire to increase the portion of renewables in the electric supply have generated interest in developing large-area plants in other areas. The environmental im...
Conference Paper
Quantification and mitigation of solar resource variability's impacts at short timescales (minutes to hours) have been examined extensively. This is because resource and subsequent solar generation variability as a result of short-term weather and diurnal effects poses the clearest link to utility planning timeframes: regulation markets, load follo...
Article
Full-text available
Over the past 12 years, photovoltaics enjoyed an average growth of ∼45% per year that was affected only marginally by the recent global financial crisis. Industrial roadmaps and analysts’ forecasts share visions of solar power becoming a major contributor to national and global electricity grids, with several terawatts of cumulative deployment by 2...
Article
The demand for cadmium has gradually decreased lately, because of its toxicity and consequent regulations. However, cadmium is coproduced in zinc smelters, and therefore the production of cadmium ingots and cadmium emissions are inevitably affected by zinc demand. Most of the zinc is used for galvanizing steel, and therefore it is of interest to in...
Article
Published scientific literature contains many studies estimating life cycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of residential and utility-scale solar photovoltaics (PVs). Despite the volume of published work, variability in results hinders generalized conclusions. Most variance between studies can be attributed to differences in methods and assumptions...
Chapter
Full-text available
One of the challenges of adopting solar power as a widespread energy solution is the sheer amount of space that would be required to harness large amounts of the sun’s energy. Now, photovoltaic technology offers a means of gathering more sunlight into a smaller space.
Article
We present the process and the results of harmonization of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions during the life cycle of commercial thin-film photovoltaics (PVs), that is, amorphous silicon (a-Si), cadmium telluride (CdTe), and copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS). We reviewed 109 studies and harmonized the estimates of GHG emissions by aligning the a...
Article
The name of a further author and contributor to this work, Roland Clift, has been added to the author list of the article in agreement with all co-authors. It had been inadvertently omitted from the original version of the paper (© 2012 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim)
Article
Several countries and states have set targets for substantially increasing renewable energy (RE) contributions in their electricity grids. As the potential for additional hydro-electricity is limited in the US most future RE penetration is envisioned to be in the form of wind and solar. Our simulations, based on hourly resource and load data, demon...
Article
Twenty states plus the District of Columbia now have renewable portfolio standards (RPS) in place that requires a certain percentage of energy to come from renewable sources by a specific year. With renewable energy on the verge of massive growth, much research emphasis is put on enabling the implementation of these technologies. This paper present...
Article
While significant advances in our understanding of the behavior of engineered nanoparticles in the environment continue, there remains a need to engage the nanoparticle research community directly in the development and evaluation of environmentally benign nanoparticles to ensure that nanomaterial-based industries emerge as tools for sustainability...
Article
Large-scale solar power plants are being developed at a rapid rate, and are setting up to use thousands or millions of acres of land globally. The environmental issues related to the installation and operation phases of such facilities have not, so far, been addressed comprehensively in the literature. Here we identify and appraise 32 impacts from...
Article
The aim of the present paper is to provide new tools and criteria for conducting HAZOPs in continuous chemical processes (e.g., petroleum-refining processes). These are mainly based on five HAZOPs of different systems, conducted by different teams. Its scope covers the organizational step of the HAZOP study, which principally entails selecting the...
Article
The HAZOP organization phase entails two main tasks to ensure the success of the study, especially when reviewing complex continuous chemical processes (e.g., petroleum-refining processes). The first task deals with selecting the nodes, as we discussed in Part I of this paper. It addresses that task by proposing and justifying tools for and criteri...
Article
Plans for large solar energy power plants in federal and private lands of the Southwest United States (US-SW) have received opposition from some citizens and organizations citing potential impacts on wildlife. In this study, potential impacts from solar energy deployment are examined in a comparative context. Specific wildlife enhancement and impac...