Big Oil is starting to crack.
For the last decade, we have been watching the slow, unsteady rise of alternative energy. Hopes for the success of wind and solar technologies to impact the hold of big oil have been dashed repeatedly by on again / off again government support, foreign price fixing schemes and wild fluctuations in public interest.
But now it looks like something is starting to happen.
The natural gas boom and the success of new hybrid and electric cars – most notably Tesla, which made the IW U.S. 500 for the first time this year – are adding new fuel to the alternative energy fire.
Suddenly, alternative energy seems to be living up to its name, offering real, viable alternatives to gas and coal. And with that, the sustainable future we have been predicting for the last 10 years seems suddenly possible, and maybe even obtainable.
There is evidence for this all over the 2014 IW U.S. 500, from the rise of Tesla to the rapid and enormous growth of natural gas producers.
But the clearest indication might be the toll all of it seems to be taking on big oil.
According to this year's list, the reigning kings of traditional energy – including the top three companies in the country – took some of the hardest blows in the industry, recording eight-figure revenue losses and some of them falling hundreds of places in the ranking.
This could be a hiccup. It could be a brief stumble for an otherwise indestructible industry. But for the moment, it looks like a win for alternative energy.
This slideshow highlights some of the biggest losses by big oil this year, from the single billion drop at Valero Energy, to the massive $43 billion slide from the king of the list, Exxon Mobil.