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hubbert award

Charlie Hall received the Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas "Matthew R. Simmons / M. King Hubbert Award for Excellence in Energy Education". This year ASPO-USA gave this award to Charles Hall, motivated primarily by Charles' work on Energy Return on Energy Investment (EROI). Here he is receiving this award this week in Austin, TX, at this organization's annual meeting, from ASPO President Tad Patzek.

Energy and the Wealth of Nations

In Energy and the Wealth of Nations, Hall and Klitgaard explore the relation between energy and the wealth explosion of the 20th century, the failure of markets to recognize or efficiently allocate diminishing resources, the economic consequences of peak oil, the EROI for finding and exploiting new oil fields, and whether alternative energy technologies such as wind and solar power meet the minimum EROI requirements needed to run our society as we know it.


sustainability journal

Special issue of Sustainability Journal on EROI

"This special volume brings together a whole series of high quality new studies on EROI, as well as many papers that struggle with the meaning of changing EROI and its impact on our economy. One overall conclusion is that the quality of fuels is at least as important in our assessment as is the quantity. I argue that many of the contemporary changes in our economy are related directly to changing EROI as our premium fuels are increasingly depleted."

New Series of Short Energy-related Books Edited by Charles Hall, available from Springer

sustainability journal

Spain's Photovoltaic Revolution: The Energy Return on Investment

This book presents the first complete energy analysis of a large-scale, real-world deployment of photovoltaic (PV) collection systems representing 3.5 GW of installed, grid-connected solar plants in Spain. The analysis includes all of the factors that limit and adjust the real electricity output through one full-year cycle, and all of the fossil fuel inputs required to achieve these results. The authors' comprehensive analysis of energy inputs, which assigns energy cost estimates to all financial expenditures, yields EROI values that are less than half of those claimed by other investigators and by the solar industry. The results imply that the EROI of current, large-scale PV systems may be too low to seamlessly support an energy and economic transition away from fossil fuels.

sustainability journal

The Limits to Growth Revisited

In The Limits to Growth Revisited, Ugo Bardi examines both the science and the polemics surrounding this work, and in particular the reactions of economists that marginalized its methods and conclusions for more than 30 years. "The Limits to Growth" was a milestone in attempts to model the future of our society, and it is vital today for both scientists and policy makers to understand its scientific basis, current relevance, and the social and political mechanisms that led to its rejection.

sustainability journal

The Chinese Oil Industry: History and Future

The Chinese Oil Industry: History and Future presents a wealth of tables and figures with new data on Chinese fossil fuel production and consumption, together with a peak oil model to forecast future trends in energy supply and demand. Energy experts in China and the United States provide you with a unique overview of the entire Chinese oil industry. The authors discuss trends in production and consumption of global significance through to the middle of the 21st century, including the energy returned on energy invested (EROI) for China's oil and gas.

sustainability journal

The First Half of the Age of Oil

According to the conventional wisdom, we live in a post-industrial information age. This book, however, paints a different picture: We live in the age of oil. Petroleum fuels and feedstocks are responsible for much of what we take for granted in modern society, from chemical products such as fertilizer and plastics, to the energy that moves people and goods in a global economy. Oil is a nearly perfect fuel: Energy dense, safe to store, easy to transport, and mostly environmentally benign. Most importantly, oil has been cheap and abundant during the past 150 years.

Charlie Speaks to Parliament in the U.K.

sustainability journalESF Professor Charles Hall spent a week in the United Kingdom, giving presentations on and discussing energy and economic issues with British business, education and governmental leaders, including members of Parliament.

charles hall at Oxford

Charles A.S. Hall
Professor Emeritus

354 Illick Hall
1 Forestry Drive
Syracuse, New York 13210
Phone: 315-470-6870
Fax: 315-470-6934

Interesting Stuff


Free Teaching Resources

Syllabus, recorded lectures, powerpoints, readings and more coming soon to the Next Generation Energy Initiative (site maintained by Jessica Lambert)

  • For High School and college freshman classes:
    • Global Environment and the Evolution of Human Culture
    • Biophysical Economics
  • For graduate students:
    • Systems Ecology
    • Energy Systems
    • Ecosystems
    • Biophysical Economics
Additional teaching Resources


Recent and some "classic" papers in each subject, in most cases with downloadable PDFs:

Research and Teaching

I am approaching 70 and am contemplating the end of my life as a full time professor. My wife and I have purchased a very nice home on Flathead Lake, Montana and are looking forward to living there for much of the year. I might continue to teach part time but I find the administrative demands and, especially, the demands of incessant email exhausting. I have been teaching 5 courses and a seminar for years and I do not have the energy once had. My work in research and in teaching is increasingly oriented toward consolidating and archiving what I have built so that others can use what I and those I have worked with have accomplished.

Meanwhile my research focuses increasingly on almost entirely on energy, with a good grant from the UK Department of International Development helping me to accomplish this and getting my last graduate students finished up. As the world increasingly experiences the effects of the depletion of cheap energy interest in my work seems to have increased dramatically. In retrospect I am glad that I kept my underlying focus on energy even though I found it impossible to get much funding for that work until recently (although I got lots of money for other things I thought less important). I am especially interested in understanding the effects of peak oil and declining EROI on economic growth and possibilities, and how that might play out in the developing world. Many of these issues come full circle to the limits to growth arguments that fascinated me in graduate school. A critical issue is to determine how, if the pie is no longer getting larger, the remaining pie should be sliced. This is a political issue outside the bailiwick of my professional research, but one that requires good scientific analyses which I hope to contribute to.

timelineThere are two particular areas where this research coalesces: EROI analysis and the development of biophysical economics. As conventional sources of high grade energy falter energy companies turn increasingly to lower grade resources, often expressing the hope that new technologies will somehow make the exhaustion of our traditional resources unimportant. Thus it becomes important to examine the EROI of these new resources as well as to determine how that may change as these resources. This we are doing. The second area has to do with the kind of economics we teach young people and that we turn to to run our economy. All of our economic and financial theories were derived during periods of expanding energy availability. Now as we enter the time of cessation of growth in the availability of high quality energy these theories are not working so well. What economic theories will be appropriate for periods of constricting energy availability? Another way to ask this question is “If real day to day economics is about stuff (food on the table, a roof over our heads, things we buy) why in the world is economics taught and undertaken today as (only) a social science rather than as a biophysical science? Thus one of my major research foci is the development of Biophysical economics.

We are consolidating all of our teaching materials (syllabi, lecture recordings, power points and so on) on the site maintained by the New economic teaching initiative and maintained by my former student and associate Jessica Lambert. We encourage anyone interested in teaching Biophyiscal economics as well as courses in global environment, energy, ecosystems or systems ecology to visit this site. There is also “advice for young professors” and other helpful materials for teachers.

Charlie and Myrna Hall
Charlie, along with wife Myrna, teaches Systems Ecology and Geographical Modeling courses and workshops at SUNY-ESF and in many locations in Latin America.


Most of my service activity is oriented towards teaching and research activity in the developing world, especially Latin America. I have taught Systems Ecology and Geographical Modeling (with my wife Myrna) in Argentina, Bolivia, China, Costa Rica and Mexico. I have also run workshops and seminar series in Italy, Finland and Sweden. I have done limited consulting work on many things, including NAFTA, fisheries, impacts of power facilities and so on. I am on the editorial board of Ecological Economics and was recently on the Editorial Board of Conservation Ecology and served as the representative of the Ecological Society of America to the American Association for the Advancement of Science.


My DOS-based Costa Rica Land Use, Agriculture, and Environmental Simulation is available for download (364 KB). Simply click on the following link, save the self-extracting file to your hard drive, then execute the file to expand it. Check out the READ.ME file for details on how to run the simulation.

Main project at present

building a new energy course and an EROI Institute. For example you can visit a series of recent papers summarizing our energy return on investment for various fuels by going to my publication list and looking under 2008.

Systems Ecology Lab & Students, Past and Present

coming soon

Improve Your World
State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry
1 Forestry Drive | Syracuse, NY 13210 | 315-470-6500
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