ENVIRONMENT
11/19/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Big Oil Goes Green

It's not just that these projects involve bigger money, which will grow exponentially if new technologies work. That's still peanuts for oil majors, which put only 4 percent of their total 2008 profits into alternative-energy investment. It's that companies are actually beginning to think about alternatives not just as a tool for greenwashing (throw up a few solar panels here, sponsor a conference on wind energy there) but as real businesses that might one day turn real profits--or at least help make fossil-fuel production more profitable.

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