The realization that diversification of energy is in everyone's interest has shifted perceptions and the big oil companies, the likes of BP and Shell, have taken the lead in alternative energy.
Chevron claims to be "the world's largest producer of geothermal energy" and BP Alternatives is a thriving division within the company. Companies like ExxonMobil now proudly claim to "be part of the solution, not the problem," since the main problem with fossil fuel has been one of big pollution and big profit.
But if profit is a necessary condition to drive investment in the energy business, pollution of the atmosphere is no longer an acceptable option, most of these companies say.
Pressure groups like Greenpeace, the champions of alternative energy and voice of the anti-oil lobby welcome their participation but question their sincerity. Pascal Husting is the Head of Greenpeace, France and he criticises the oil companies for spending too much money and attention on one main area to clean what he calls "dirty oil."
"Big oil companies focus on the end-of-pipe Carbon Capture and Storage technology at the expense of real alternative technologies," Husting said. Many of the big oil companies like to be seen to be in the right space, but their interest is short-term and their real commitment is lacking, he argued.
Pressure groups like Greenpeace have certainly mobilised public and government opinion over the years and in no small way contributed to the cleaner energy legislation in place now.
But we must be realistic about the energy mix and realise that we need "more diversification and investment in conventional and non-conventional energy as fossil fuel will with us for decades to come," Vahan Zanoyan, PFC Energy Chairman, long-term veteran of the energy business, economist and now CEO of First Energy Bank said.