After studying law I vectored towards journalism by accident and it's the only job I've done since. It's a job that has taken me on a private jet to Jaisalmer - where I wrote India's first feature on fractional ownership of business jets - to the badlands of west UP where India's sugar economy is inextricably now tied to politics. I'm a big fan of new business models and crafty entrepreneurs. Fortunately for me, there are plenty of those in Asia at the moment.
Ambani reiterated his plans to deliver a fully-integrated solar photovoltaic cell manufacturing ecosystem.
Image: Reuters /Amit Dave
Over the last year, Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) has scaled up its green energy plans, even as it works on keeping pace with supplying India’s current energy needs. This would allow the company to develop a new line of business that would in time rival the legacy oil-to-chemicals business as well as newer ventures like Reliance Retail and Jio.
On the old energy side, Mukesh Ambani, chairman of RIL, paid significant attention to gas. As gas has assumed a vital role in India’s energy basket, the company has revived production in the KG-D6 block from near-zero a few years ago to 20 million standard cubic metres a day. This has allowed India to save $7 billion per annum in energy imports and makes Reliance the “only company with proven capabilities in exploring and producing oil and gas from deep and ultra deep blocks,” according to the annual general meeting (AGM) speech by Ambani.
Addressing shareholders at the 46th AGM of the company, Ambani also highlighted plans to take production to 30 million standard cubic metres per day, which is 30 percent of India’s gas production and 15 percent of its current demand. In addition, the oil-to-chemicals business saw its highest Ebidta of Rs 62,075 crore despite a new special additional excise duty imposed. Ambani is sticking to his timeline of 2035 for achieving a net carbon zero business through the use of renewables and bioenergy.
A large portion of the nearly two-hour speech was reserved for the new energy business. In the 2021 AGM, the company had first announced plans to enter this business with an investment of Rs 75,000 crore. At that time, large parts of the plan were in the solar space and that very much seems to be the case.
Ambani reiterated his plans to deliver a fully integrated solar photovoltaic (PV) cell manufacturing ecosystem. This would be done by setting up a solar gigafactory, where Reliance would convert sand to solar PV modules. Cells, wafers and ingots, polysilicon and glass would be manufactured at a single location at Jamnagar. The facility would be brought on-stream in a phased manner by end of 2025.
In addition to solar, which would be the mainstay, RIL’s plans in the wind energy space are also on track. According to Ambani, one of the main costs of wind turbines is carbon fibre, which RIL plans to manufacture on its own. The company has not yet spelt out how it plans to monetise these turbines and whether it plans to sell electricity to grids or sell the turbines on a turnkey basis. According to the AGM speech RIL plans to install 100 GW of renewable energy generation by 2030.
Lastly, there are plans to set up a battery gigafactory by 2026. In addition to making containerised battery cells and packs, it will include a battery recycling facility. On the green hydrogen front plans are afoot to set up a fully integrated automated gigascale electrolyser manufacturing facility.