Reliance Industries, India’s leading multinational conglomerate, made a significant announcement of starting a new green energy business at its 44th annual general meeting held virtually on 24th June 2021. Reliance Green energy plans include an investment of over $10 billion (Rs 75,000 crores) over the next 3 years.
The company was ranked in the top 100 list on the Fortune magazine world’s biggest corporations of 2020 – Thanks to its petrochemical, refining, oil, and gas-related operations that form the core of its business. The Oil to Chemical (O2C) business of Reliance contributed to 60% of Reliance’s $75 billion revenue in 2021.
In 2020, Reliance had made its commitment to become net carbon zero by 2035. This year’s announcement from its chairman and managing director, Mukesh Ambani is taking that vision forward.
Moreover, Reliance realizes that the age of fossil fuels is almost over and the company cannot rely on its petrochemicals, oil & gas business to make money in the new age. The global oil and gas industry is under huge pressure to increase its responsibilities to address climate change and accelerate the energy transition.
The clean energy transition is an imperative, which Reliance oil to chemical business has to undertake.
Mukesh Ambani in his speech alluded to the International Energy Agency (IEA) report released last month. IEA for the first time presented a global roadmap for the energy sector to remove all emissions by 2050. The roadmap calls for annual additions of solar Photovoltaic to increase global solar capacity from 737 GW in 2020 to about 5,000 GW by the end of 2030.
The company is also relying on the Indian government’s ambitious target of having 450 GW of renewable energy by 2030 and the slew of measures and incentives that the Indian government has announced in the last few months.
Reliance Green Energy Plans
Reliance has established the New Energy Council with experts from India and abroad to help them validate their strategies. The new energy council includes people like Dr. Martin Green (an expert on solar photovoltaics), Dr. Raghunath Mashelkar (former Director-General of India’s Council of Scientific and Industrial Research), Dr. Alan Finkel (renowned Australia’s scientist) among others.
Getting the local talent and resources in the green energy sector in India is hard, hence the company also announced partnering with leading global universities, technology companies, and start-ups in the green energy sector.
The company will leverage its existing land and infrastructure to take forward this ambition. The company will develop the Dhirubhai Ambani Green Energy Giga Complex on 5,000 acres in Jamnagar. The proposed plan includes developing 4 Giga Factories and the entire setup in Jamnagar will be amongst the largest integrated renewable energy manufacturing facilities in the world.
These 4 factories will manufacture all the critical components of the new energy ecosystem to create a fully integrated, end-to-end renewables energy ecosystem.
Over the next 3 years, the company plans to invest over $10 billion of which $8 billion (Rs 60,000 crore) will be used in the 4 Giga factories. An additional $2 billion (Rs. 15,000 crores) will be spent on the value chain, partnerships, and future technologies, including upstream and downstream industries.
- Integrated solar photovoltaic module factory for the solar energy sector
The company will start with the manufacturing of raw silica and convert this to polysilicon which will then be converted to ingot and wafers. These wafers would be used to make solar cells and finally assembled into solar modules.
- Advanced energy storage battery factory
Reliance is exploring advanced electrochemical technologies that can be used for large-scale grid batteries to store the energy that will be created.
- Electrolyzer factory for the production of green hydrogen
Latching on the emerging sector of green hydrogen which is a unique energy sector that can enable decarbonization of many other sectors such as transportation, industry, and power. The company plans to generate Green Hydrogen through electrolysis of pure water through Electrolysers.
- Fuel cell factory for converting hydrogen into motive and stationary power
In the new era, Fuel Cells will progressively replace internal combustion engines and will be able to power automobiles, trucks, and buses. A Fuel Cell uses Oxygen from the air and Hydrogen, to generate electricity and does not produce any emissions.
This technology can also be used in stationary applications for powering data centers, telecom towers, emergency generators & microgrids, and industrial equipment.
If someone asks, what will happen to the existing capabilities that Reliance has developed over the last many decades. The company has plans to leverage its engineering, project management, and construction capabilities for the new renewable energy business.
Additionally, Reliance will also develop two divisions to augment the green energy ecosystem.
- Renewable Energy Project Management and Construction Division – The Renewable Energy Project Management and Construction Division will provide gigawatt-scale end-to-end solutions for large renewable plants across the world. It will enable and partner with thousands of Green MSME Entrepreneurs, who can deploy kilowatt to megawatt-scale solutions in agriculture, industry, residences, and transportation.
- Renewable Energy Project Finance Division – The Renewable Energy Project Finance Division in partnership with banks will provide financial solutions to the stakeholders in the ecosystem.
Reliance is also planning for new materials and green chemicals by strategically investing in India’s first world-scale carbon fiber plant for supporting our hydrogen and solar ecosystems.
Considering the size of its own existing Oil to Chemicals (O2C) business, Reliance green energy plans are not limited to the outside world. In order to achieve its own commitments to become carbon neutral in the next 15 years, the company plans to transform its legacy business into a sustainable, circular, and net-zero carbon materials business.
In order to do this, Reliance plans to:
- Use solar energy to decarbonize their existing O2C business and accelerate our journey to become net carbon zero.
- Use Green Hydrogen and CO2 as raw materials to develop a road map for new Green Chemicals, Green Fertilizer, and e-fuels.
- Commercialize with global partners their proprietary Multi-zone Catalytic Cracking (MCC) Technology to optimize the fossil fuel transition to sustainable chemical and material building blocks.
He ended his green energy part of the speech by saying, “By implementing our Green Vision, Reliance will help transition India and the World from an Industrial Civilisation to an Ecological Civilisation. We are repaying our debt of gratitude to Mother Nature.” “New Energy is the most exciting, most challenging, and most purpose-driven mission I will be pursuing in my life. I seek your blessings and support for success in this mission.”