Reliance Industries Ltd, whose offering of rock-bottom tariffs shook up the telecom industry, is looking to repeat the feat in the green energy business, where its billionaire chairman Mukesh Ambani sees promise to outshine all existing growth engines in 5-7 years.
Having pledged Rs 6 lakh crore on green energy, Mr Ambani says RIL will scale up investments in this business which will start going live in the next 12 months.
“Over the next 12 months our investments across the Green Energy value chain will gradually start going live, scaling up over the next couple of years,” Ambani, chairman and managing director of RIL, said in the company’s latest annual report.
“This new growth engine holds great promise to outshine all our existing growth engines in just 5-7 years.” Ambani is pivoting Reliance toward clean energy in an attempt to diversify away from its traditional oil refining and petrochemical businesses.
The firm is building giga-factories for the entire green energy value chain — from solar power generation to the production of green hydrogen to its distribution and consumption.
This is with a view to bringing down the current high cost to affordable limits.
The tycoon has a track record of implementing business transformations and has morphed Reliance from being an energy giant to a consumer services behemoth in the last decade.
“FY 2021-22 marked the beginning of Reliance’s Green Transformation, at a scale which will make India the world’s leading green energy producer,” Ambani said.
Reliance will develop end-to-end green energy solutions to make them available for everyone at the most affordable price, says Ambani. “We know that affordability is the most critical factor in the adoption of any new technology and the scale of societal benefit it can create. Reliance has embarked on this journey with a vision to repeat the feat it achieved in wireless broadband.”
Jio, the firm’s telecom venture, scaled to become the No.1 operator in the country within years of launch as it acquired customers by offering free voice calling and dirt cheap data on mobile phones.
“Just as India has the world’s most affordable wireless broadband today, we will have the world’s most affordable green energy within this decade,” he said. “And these solutions will then be exported to other countries, helping them contain carbon emissions.”
Leveraging its world-class execution capability and strong debt-free balance sheet, Reliance has begun investing in the clean energy space.
It has commenced the development of four factories at Dhirubhai Ambani Green Energy Giga Complex in Jamnagar, Gujarat and completed acquisitions and investments of more than Rs 5,500 crore to build capabilities in new energy.
“To kickstart the initiative, last year Reliance announced a $10 billion capex commitment over three years,” he said.
The firm entered into a series of partnerships, including equity investments, with local and international corporates with unique technological and execution capabilities across the green energy value chain.
Reliance’s partnerships include companies like Ambri in the US, Faradion in the UK and the Netherlands-based Lithium Werks in the energy storage space.
Similarly, Reliance invested in Germany’s NexWafe, which is a pioneer in next-gen technology to produce monocrystalline silicon wafers needed in making solar panels. It also acquired promoters’ stake in REC Solar — a global technology leader in solar panel manufacturing.
Reliance picked up a 40 per cent stake in Sterling & Wilson Renewable Energy — one of the world’s leading EPC turnkey contractors in large-scale solar projects.
In the hydrogen ecosystem, Reliance joined hands with the US-based Chart Industries to set up India H2 Alliance to commercialise hydrogen technology and develop a supply chain in collaboration with other Indian stakeholders.
It also entered into an agreement with Denmark’s Stiesdal A/S for its innovative next-gen electrolyser technology, which has the potential to reduce dramatically the cost of producing hydrogen from pure water.
“Simultaneously, we began work on the four Giga-factories at Dhirubhai Ambani Green Energy Giga Complex to set up world-scale production capacity for solar panels, energy storage systems, electrolysers and fuel cells spread over 5,000 acres in Jamnagar,” Ambani said.
Reliance will also invest in creating an ecosystem of thousands of small and medium-scale project consultants and installers pan-India to set up green energy generation projects in every nook and corner of the country.
Similarly, Reliance will undertake large Giga Watt scale turnkey green energy projects for power generation companies or large investors on its own.
“With these collaborations and the Giga-factories, Reliance is set to achieve a uniquely integrated position in the Green Energy value chain globally,” he said.
To achieve its net carbon zero target by 2035, Reliance initiated the process to separate the petcoke gasification complex into a wholly-owned subsidiary, with an aim to repurpose the unit and unlock value through future collaborations.
“With Reliance switching to green and renewable energy for its energy needs, syngas will become available for upgradation to high-value petrochemicals and hydrogen fuel,” he said. “All these steps will greatly reduce the carbon footprint of the Jamnagar complex.”
At the same time, Reliance continues to expand its existing businesses to newer frontiers of technology, innovation, scale and execution, he added.