Billionaire Mukesh Ambani on Thursday announced a Rs 75,000 crore investment in setting up four ‘Giga’ factories to make solar photovoltaic cells, green hydrogen, batteries and fuel cells over the next three years.
Addressing the company’s annual shareholder meeting virtually on account of COVID-19, he said Reliance will set up 100 GW of solar power generating capacity, mostly through rooftop installations and de-centralised operations in villages.
Reliance will build solar manufacturing units, a battery factory for energy storage, a fuel cell-making factory and an electrolyser unit to produce green hydrogen as a part of the business. “We plan to build four Giga Factories to manufacture and integrate all critical components of new energy ecosystem solar photovoltaic module factory, energy storage battery factory, electrolyser factory, fuel cell factory,” Ambani said.
These four factories will involve an investment of Rs 60,000 crore.
“We will invest an additional Rs 15,000 crore in the value chain, partnerships and future technologies, including upstream and downstream industries. Thus, our overall investment in the new energy business will be Rs 75,000 crore in 3 years,” he said.
Last year, he had announced a 15-year commitment to become net carbon zero by 2035. “The age of fossil fuels, which powered economic growth globally for nearly three centuries, cannot continue much longer,” he said.
“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. Reliance will build solar manufacturing units, a battery factory for energy storage, a fuel cell-making factory and an electrolyser unit to produce green hydrogen as a part of the business, Ambani said.
As a part of the new business - called the Dhirubhai Ambani Green Energy Giga Complex - Reliance will also build solar capacities of at least 100 GW by 2030, Asia’s richest man told his shareholders. That would account for over a fifth of India’s renewable energy target of installing 450 GW by 2030. India wants green energy sources to make up 40% of electricity generated by the end of this decade. “A significant part of this will come from rooftop solar and decentralised solar installations in villages,” Ambani said.
Reducing carbon footprint
Reliance’s pivot toward a cleaner, greener version of its legacy businesses underscores the new world order for the energy sector. Global giants such as Exxon Mobil Corp. are under pressure to pare their carbon footprint while local rival tycoons including India’s second-richest man, Gautam Adani, are doubling down on their green initiatives and stoking a stock rally. “We will transform our legacy business into sustainable, circular and net-zero carbon materials business. One that will provide growing returns over several decades,” Ambani said in his speech. “And we will do this by re-purposing our existing assets to extend their economic life and earning capacity.”
Further addressing the shareholders, Reliance Foundation Chairperson Nita Ambani outlined the steps taken by the foundation amid the pandemic. She said Reliance now produces 11 per cent of India’s overall medical grade oxygen.
Reliance Industries Ltd has raised a record Rs 3.24 lakh crore in capital from stake sale in units, rights issue and asset monetisation, Ambani said. The company raised Rs 3,24,432 crore capital through the sale of stake in digital unit Jio Platforms and retail venture, rights issue and asset monetisation.
Tech, financial stocks in focus
Shares edged higher on Thursday, helped by gains in heavyweight information technology and financial stocks, while shares of Reliance Industries were slightly lower ahead of its annual general meeting later in the day. The blue-chip NSE Nifty 50 index rose 0.22% to 15,721.50 and the benchmark S&P BSE Sensex climbed 0.27% to 52,449.44 by 0355 GMT. Declining COVID-19 cases, easing of pandemic-led curbs in states, and a recent record surge in daily vaccinations have driven both indexes to record highs this month.
But, they have retreated in the last two sessions as investors locked in gains ahead of Thursday’s expiry of monthly contracts for June. In Mumbai trading, the Nifty IT index gained 0.77% and the Nifty Bank Index added 0.40%. Both the sectoral indexes were down in at least three of the past four sessions.
Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Alphabet (Google’s parent company), also took part in RIL’s AGM through video conferencing. He announced the 5G partnership between Google Cloud and Reliance Jio.