India’s Reliance Industries announced itself as a major player in the global clean energy sector with a $10 billion plan spanning renewables, storage and hydrogen, including what it claims will be the world’s largest green energy equipment ‘giga-complex’ and a 100-gigawatt capacity goal.
Reliance — one of India’s biggest conglomerates that has major petrochemical interests as well as telecoms and retail assets — said the massive investment over three years would propel it to net zero emissions status by 2035, and play a big role in meeting India’s vast national renewables goals.
Billionaire chairman Mukesh Ambani, ranked as Asia's richest man by Forbes magazine with an $82 billion fortune, said Reliance plans to build ‘giga factories’ on a 5000-acre site at Jamnagar in Gujarat producing photovoltaics (PV) modules, batteries, hydrogen electrolysers and fuel cells.
The group also plans to build 100GW of new solar by the end of the decade, so singlehandedly accounting for almost one quarter of the 450GW renewables target set by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The Reliance ‘ecosystem’ will also include renewable energy finance and construction units, he added.
The 100GW target immediately propels the company into the front rank of renewables ambitions globally, joining the likes of Enel, Iberdrola and oil players TotalEnergies and BP in the scale of capacity additions envisaged.
Ambani said: “The world is entering a new energy era, which is going to be highly disruptive. The age of fossil fuels, which powered economic growth globally for nearly three centuries, cannot continue much longer.
“Our world has only one option: rapid transition to a new era of green, clean and renewable energy. The Covid pandemic has further put the climate issue in the crisis bucket.”
PV is tipped to play a massive role in India’s energy transition by the International Energy Agency (IEA), which earlier this year said it was on course to become the world’s first “solar nation”.
However, a lack of domestic manufacturing has left the nation uncomfortably reliant on imports of cells and modules from China, a situation Reliance’s plan would help to address.
(This article first appeared in Upstream's sister renewable energy publication Recharge on 24 June, 2021.)