With their backs to the wall, oil companies have little time to waste in embracing clean energy.
Even Reliance Industries, India’s most valuable conglomerate, isn’t immune to the winds of change. But while its global peers like TotalEnergies TotalEnergies TotalEnergies Renewable Energies Read more , BP BP BP Gas and low carbon energy Read more , and Shell Shell Shell Renewables and energy solutions Read more double down on renewable power generation, Reliance has chosen a more radical path. It has opted for a manufacturing-first approach to slash its net-zero net-zero Net-zero Balancing emissions by removing an equivalent amount from the atmosphere. carbon emissions to zero by 2035. Making solar panels from scratch is central to this, especially given India’s plans to increase its solar power generation capacity 6X to 280 gigawatt (GW) by 2030.
To this end, Reliance made a big move earlier this month, buying 100% of Singapore-based and Chinese-owned REC Solar Holdings, a solar cell and module maker, for around $770 million. Two days later, it announced an investment of 25 million euros ($29 million) in NexWafe, a German manufacturer of silicon wafers—the building blocks for solar cells, which in turn, are assembled into modules. In addition, Reliance said it would buy a 40% stake in Sterling & Wilson Solar, a large solar farm builder, for Rs 2,850 crore ($380 million).
This was only to be expected. In June, Mukesh Ambani, the billionaire chairman and managing director of Reliance, said that the company would invest a whopping Rs 75,000 crore Rs 75,000 crore Reliance Industries Chairman's Statement - AGM Read more ($10 billion) over the next three years in its clean energy business.
Three-quarters of this would go towards manufacturing solar modules from scratch, batteries, electrolysers electrolysers Electrolysers Electrolysers use electricity to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. , and fuel cells fuel cells Fuel cells Fuel cells use the chemical energy of hydrogen or other fuels to produce power. . The rest would be set aside for partnerships and newer technologies.