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Can RIL pull off a ‘Jio’ in the clean-energy business?

Reliance Industries, led by billionaire Mukesh Ambani, the largest oil-to-retail conglomerate has extended its hands towards the green revolution in India. With its recent acquisitions of Norway based REC Solar Holdings and purchase of a 40 percent stake in Sterling & Wilson Solar and the partnership with Nexwafe, Steisdal for the supply of photovoltaic solar cells and the manufacture of hydrogen electrolyzers, RIL has acquired the expertise and technology portfolio to start to build a fully integrated end-to-end renewables energy ecosystem.

It aims to invest Rs. 60,000 crore over the next 3 years to set up 4 large gigafactories in Jamnagar, Gujarat.

This includes an integrated solar photovoltaic module factory, the advanced energy storage battery factory, the electrolyzer factory for the production of green hydrogen, and the last one being the fuel cell factory for converting hydrogen into stationary power. And the remaining Rs.15,000 crore on investments in clean energy value-chain, partnerships, and future technologies.

The company aims to become net carbon zero by the year 2035 which is earlier than any energy company in the region. This can be achieved by the use of green hydrogen and CO as raw materials to develop a road map for new Green Chemicals, 2 Green Fertilizers, and e-fuels.

Reliance is building a green energy business to supply the equipment India will need for its green energy revolution.

Where the company has a strong balance sheet and cash flows, it lacks manufacturing know-how and technology. Now, with the tie-ups, RIL will have the know-how and the technological process to develop green hydrogen which can be cost-reduced. And it is estimated that the firm’s new energy business could contribute almost 10% of the company’s total EBITDA by FY’26 assuming all the factories are constructed and ramped up on the company’s timeline.

“We will target to achieve costs that are lowest in the world to ensure affordability of our solar modules. We are highly inspired by the goal set by our Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modiji for India to achieve 450 gigawatts (gw) of renewable energy capacity by 2030. Out of this, I am pleased to announce today that Reliance will establish and enable at least 100 gw of solar energy by 2030,” Ambani said at its 44th Annual General Meeting held on 24th June 2021.

by Gautam Mahapatro

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