Energy Return on Investment

A Unifying Principle for Biology, Economics, and Sustainability

  • Charles A.S. Hall

Part of the Lecture Notes in Energy book series (LNEN, volume 36)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xii
  2. Energy and Investments

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 1-1
    2. Charles A. S. Hall
      Pages 3-6
    3. Charles A. S. Hall
      Pages 7-20
    4. Charles A. S. Hall
      Pages 21-31
    5. Charles A. S. Hall
      Pages 33-46
  3. Energy and Biology

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 47-47
    2. Charles A. S. Hall
      Pages 49-57
    3. Charles A. S. Hall
      Pages 73-86
  4. Energy and Human Economies

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 87-87
    2. Charles A. S. Hall
      Pages 89-94
    3. Charles A. S. Hall
      Pages 95-105
    4. Charles A. S. Hall
      Pages 107-117
  5. Back Matter
    Pages 171-174

About this book


This authoritative but highly accessible book presents the reader with a powerful framework for understanding the critical role of the energy return on investment (EROI) in the survival and well-being of individuals, ecosystems, businesses, economies and nations. Growth and development are fundamental and ubiquitous processes at all scales, from individuals to food crops to national economies. While we are all familiar with the concepts of economic growth and living standards as measured by gross domestic product (GDP), we often take for granted the energy use that underpins GDP and our expectations for year-on-year growth. In this book, you will learn how these measures of “progress” are completely dependent on the balance that can be achieved between energy costs (inputs) and gains. Nothing is made or moved without an energy surplus, and it is the EROI of available energy sources more than any other single factor that determines the shape of civilization.

Nearly all politics and economics assume that policy and market forces are the levers upon which future outcomes will hinge. However, this book presents many examples of historical and current events that can be explained much more clearly from an energetic perspective. In addition, a future scenario is developed that gives a central place to EROI in assessing the potential of governmental and private initiatives to substitute so-called renewable energy sources for diminishing stocks of fossil fuels. When cheap fossil fuels are no longer available in the abundance needed to mask economic problems and power business as usual, it will be EROI more than the plethora of “green” technologies that creates the boundary conditions for a sustainable future.


role of energy in the economy EROI calculation calculating energy costs and gains theory of energy return on investment energy as driver of growth

Authors and affiliations

  • Charles A.S. Hall
    • 1
  1. 1.College of Environmental Science and ForestryState University of New YorkSyracuseUSA

Bibliographic information

  • DOI
  • Copyright Information The Author(s) 2017
  • Publisher Name Springer, Cham
  • eBook Packages Energy Energy (R0)
  • Print ISBN 978-3-319-47820-3
  • Online ISBN 978-3-319-47821-0
  • Series Print ISSN 2195-1284
  • Series Online ISSN 2195-1292
  • Buy this book on publisher's site