India’s Reliance Industries plans $10 billion clean energy investment

Rajesh Kumar Singh and Debjit Chakraborty June 24, 2021
BP Reliance KG D6 ultra-deepwater production platform
BP Reliance KG D6 ultra-deepwater production platform

(Bloomberg) --Reliance Industries Ltd., which operates the world’s largest crude oil refining complex, plans to invest 750 billion rupees ($10.1 billion) in clean energy over three years, paving way for a crucial transformation as investors, consumers and governments world over seek sustainable growth.

The refining-to-retail conglomerate will create four “giga factories” in the western Indian state of Gujarat, investing over 600 billion rupees, and another 150 billion rupees in value chain and other partnerships, Chairman Mukesh Ambani told shareholders on Thursday.

India’s most valuable company will also “establish and enable” at least 100 gigawatts of solar power capacity by 2030, mostly through rooftop installations and de-centralized operations in villages, he said.

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. The green agenda also has the broader policy backing in India and is one of the top priorities for the Narendra Modi-led government.

“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.”

Reliance last year set itself a target of becoming a net-zero carbon company by 2035 - a shorter time frame compared to the self-imposed 2050 cut-off of many of its global peers including BP Plc. and Royal Dutch Shell Plc. Ambani’s group bought its first cargo of carbon-neutral crude oil in February and said it was looking for more such partnerships.

India’s government plans to expand its renewable energy capacity nearly five-fold to 450 gigawatts by 2030, as the nation aims to reduce its dependence on coal.

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