Mukesh Ambani throws a $10 billion clean energy challenge at rivals

NEW DELHI: Reliance Industries Ltd will spend Rs 75,000 crore, or over $10 billion, on adding giga-size clean energy knowledge and manufacturing verticals to its diversified business empire over the next three years, tossing a challenge at energy rivals and preparing for the future by further delinking the conglomerate’s fortunes from oil prices.
The company will “target to achieve costs that are lowest in the world to ensure affordability of our solar modules” and “enable at least 100 GW (gigawatt) of solar energy capacity by 2030, chairman Mukesh Ambani told shareholders.
“As one of the biggest energy markets in the world, India will play a leading role in transforming the global energy landscape. In 2016, we launched Jio with the aim of bridging the Digital Divide in India. Now, in 2021, we are launching our new energy business with the aim of bridging the green energy divide in India and globally,” he said.
RIL’s solar plan takes on the combined might of companies such as Adani Solar, Vikram Solar, Waaree Energies and Tata Solar. It is more than six times bigger than the current domestic module manufacturing capacity of 15 GW and 14 times larger than 7 GW operational capacity that meets 35% of domestic demand.
“Jamnagar was the cradle of our old energy business. Jamnagar will also be the cradle of our new business,” Ambani said referring to an integrated manufacturing facility, named Dhirubhai Ambani Green Energy Giga Complex, being set up in the Gujarat district where the company built the world’s largest oil refining complex on 7,500 acres in 1999.
The renewables complex will be set up on 5,000 acres and amongst the largest such integrated facilities in the world. It will house four ‘giga factories’ for producing solar photovoltaic (PV) modules from scratch, advanced batteries for solar storage projects, electrolyser plant for green hydrogen and fuel cells for hydrogen vehicles.
These facilities envisage an investment of Rs 60,000 crore. An additional Rs 15,000 crore will be invested into creating utilities, ancillary units and partnerships for creating a new energy eco-system. Two verticals will be set up for providing end-to-end renewable project management solution and financing.
RIL appears to be targeting the gap in India’s solar manufacturing capability, while it chases a target of 175 GW by 2022 based on imported equipment. The timing of the plan coincides with the government’s Rs 4,500 crore production linked incentive to encourage domestic manufacturing.
The green hydrogen and fuel cell units will prepare the conglomerate for a market for new-age mobility solutions such as hydrogen vehicles lurking on the horizon, as envisaged in the budget 2021 national hydrogen mission.
The plan fits well with the philosophy of its fuel retail venture with British major BP for offering diversified mobility solutions and build upon the budget.

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