Robert L. Hirsch

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Robert L. Hirsch is a former senior energy program adviser for Science Applications International Corporation and is a Senior Energy Advisor at MISI and a consultant in energy, technology, and management. His primary experience is in research, development, and commercial applications. He has managed technology programs in oil and natural gas exploration and petroleum refining, synthetic fuels, fusion, fission, renewables, defense technologies, chemical analysis, and basic research, for example the Farnsworth-Hirsch fusor.

Professional experience[edit]

Hirsch has served on numerous advisory committees related to energy development, and he is the principal author of the report Peaking of World Oil Production: Impacts, Mitigation, and Risk Management, which was written for the United States Department of Energy.

Hirsch directed the US fusion energy program during the 1970s evolution of the Atomic Energy Commission (including initiation of the Tokamak Fusion Test Reactor), through the Energy Research and Development Administration to the present Department of Energy. In addition to his role in development of fusion energy by magnetic confinement, Hirsch was also interested in inertially confined fusion.

His previous management positions include:

  • Senior Energy Program Advisor, SAIC (World oil production)
  • Senior Energy Analyst, RAND (Various energy studies)
  • Vice President of the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI).
  • Vice President and Manager of Research and Technical Services for Atlantic Richfield Co. (ARCO) (Oil and gas exploration and production).
  • Founder and CEO of APTI, a roughly $50 million/year company now owned by BAE Systems. (Commercial & Defense Department technologies).
  • Manager of Exxon’s synthetic fuels research laboratory.
  • Manager of Petroleum Exploratory Research at Exxon. (Refining R & D).
  • Assistant Administrator of the U.S. Energy Research and Development Administration (ERDA) responsible for renewables, fusion, geothermal and basic research. (Presidential Appointment).
  • Director of fusion research at the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission and ERDA.

Hirsch has served as a consultant and on advisory committees for government and industry. He is past Chairman of the Board on Energy and Environmental Systems of the National Research Council, the operating arm of the National Academies, has served on a number of National Research Council committees, and is a National Associate of the National Academies. In recent years, he has focused on problems associated with the peaking of world conventional oil production and its mitigation.

Energy policy[edit]

In 2008, Hirsch stated that declines in world oil supply caused proportionate declines in world GDP. His suggested framework for mitigation planning included:

"(1) a Best Case where maximum world oil production is followed by a multi-year plateau before the onset of a monotonic decline rate of 2-5% per year; (2) A Middling Case, where world oil production reaches a maximum, after which it drops into a long-term, 2-5% monotonic annual decline; and finally (3) a Worst Case, where the sharp peak of the Middling Case is degraded by oil exporter withholding, leading to world oil shortages growing potentially more rapidly than 2-5% per year, creating the most dire world economic impacts."[1]


Hirsch was awarded the M. King Hubbert award in 2009 by the ASPO-USA.[2]


Hirsch holds 14 patents and has over 50 publications in the energy field.

  • Hirsch, Robert L. (February 27, 1979). "Method of mounting a fuel pellet in a laser-excited fusion reactor". US Patent 4,142,088. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  • Hirsch, Robert L.; et al. (November 6, 1990). "Coal seam discontinuity sensor and method for coal mining apparatus". US Patent 4,968,098. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  • Hirsch, Robert (1996-03-01). "The Energy Plateau". Public Utilities Reports, Inc. Archived from the original on 2006-03-15.
  • Hirsch, Robert L.; et al. (February 2005). "Peaking of world oil production: impacts, mitigation, & risk management". US Dept. Energy/National Energy Technology Lab.: 91. Cite journal requires |journal= (help) [1]
  • Hirsch, Robert L.; Bezdek, Roger H.; Wendling, Robert M.; et al. (November 28, 2005). "Peaking of world oil production: impacts, mitigation, & risk management". AIChE Journal. 52 (1): 2–8. doi:10.1002/aic.10747. [2]
  • Hirsch, Robert L.; et al. (2005). "Peaking of world oil production: impacts, mitigation, & risk management". US Dept. Energy/National Energy Technology Lab. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)[3]
  • Hirsch, Robert L. (October 2005). "The Inevitable Peaking of World Oil Production". Atlantic Council of the United States, Bulletin. XVI (3).[4]
  • Hirsch, Robert L.; Bezdek, Roger H.; Wendling, Robert M. (February 5, 2007). "Peaking of world oil production: recent Forecasts". US Department of Energy/National Energy Technology Lab. NETL-2007/1263. Cite journal requires |journal= (help). See the Hirsch report
  • Hirsch, Robert L. (February 2008). "Mitigation of maximum world oil production: Shortage scenarios". Energy Policy. 36 (2): 881–889. doi:10.1016/j.enpol.2007.11.009.
  • Höök, Mikael; Hirsch, Robert L.; Aleklett, Kjell (June 2009). "Giant oil field decline rates and their influence on world oil production". Energy Policy. 37 (6): 2262–2272. doi:10.1016/j.enpol.2009.02.020.
  • Hirsch, Robert L., Roger H. Bezdek, Robert M. Wendling The Impending World Energy Mess: What It Is and What It Means to You, Apogee Prime, 2010.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hirsch, Robert (2008). "Mitigation of maximum world oil production: Shortage scenarios". The Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas. Retrieved 9 June 2012.
  2. ^ 2009 M. King Hubbert award

External links[edit]