India’s new-age fuel strategy involves leveraging its landmass and low tariffs to produce low-cost green hydrogen for exports
NEW DELHI :
Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) is looking to build a mega land bank to set up renewable energy parks and projects, two people aware of the development said, as the Mukesh Ambani controlled conglomerate pivots from fossil fuels to clean energy.
A land aggregation exercise is underway to set up solar power projects of 100GW by 2030, the people cited above said on condition of anonymity. It takes around four acres to set up solar panels for installing 1MW capacity. RIL unveiled a ₹75,000-crore push into clean energy over three years in June last year, including plans to spend ₹60,000 crore on four gigafactories for solar photovoltaic (PV) modules, electrolyzers, fuel cells and energy storage.
“Work is also underway to set up the gigafactories. The plan is to provide solar modules at quality better than those offered by Chinese firms and at a price cheaper than theirs. The plan is to use the equipment made at Dhirubhai Ambani Green Energy Giga Complex to set up the solar power generation capacity," one of the two people cited above said.
RIL, which generates more than half of its revenue from refining and chemicals, is pivoting to clean energy by setting up a green energy complex on 5,000 acres in Jamnagar. Its fully integrated, metallic silicon to PV panel manufacturing gigafactory at Jamnagar will initially start with 4GW per annum capacity and reach 10GW capacity per annum.
“RIL’s captive electricity demand alone is to the tune of around 25GW. They have huge tracts of land in Gujarat," the person added.
In October, RIL subsidiary Reliance New Energy Solar Ltd (RNESL) acquired REC Solar Holdings AS from China National Bluestar (Group) Co. Ltd for an enterprise value of $771 million. RNESL also acquired Faradion Ltd and a 40% stake in Sterling & Wilson Solar Ltd. In addition, RNESL inked a cooperation agreement with Denmark-based Stiesdal A/S for technology development and manufacturing of electrolyzers in India; and has invested $29 million as a strategic lead investor in Germany-based NexWafe GmbH, which supplies wafers. RNESL, along with strategic investors, also announced a $144 million investment in Ambri Inc., a Massachusetts based energy storage company.
Queries emailed to an RIL spokesperson on Friday remained unanswered till press time.
Analysts say RIL is trying to become an integrated global green hydrogen major.
“RIL’s plans will make it among the most integrated green hydrogen players globally. It already has made strides by acquiring REC solar for growing in-house solar panel manufacturing and got capabilities in energy storage India with ownership/stakes in Ambri (liquid metal technology), Lithium Werks (LFP) and Faradion (Sodium-Ion technology)," Morgan Stanley wrote in a 20 April report.
“RIL’s solar panel capacity, once developed, can be leveraged internally to not only power its refining and chemicals complex but help the production of hydrogen, considering its proximity to the sea and existing water management infrastructure at Jamnagar. RIL would then integrate this with its own electrolyzer manufacturing in partnership with Stiesdal and use the green hydrogen output internally as well for manufacturing green chemicals and fertilizers," the Morgan Stanley report added.
India’s new-age emission-free fuel strategy involves leveraging the country’s landmass and low solar and wind tariffs to produce low-cost green hydrogen and ammonia for exports. The country’s new green hydrogen policy has promised cheaper renewable power, a fee waiver for inter-state power transmission for 25 years for projects commissioned before June 2025, land in renewable energy parks, and mega manufacturing zones. Also, India has imposed a basic customs duty on imported solar cells and modules from 1 April to check imports from China.
There is growing interest in India’s green energy economy, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the CoP-26 summit in Glasgow announcing plans to increase the country’s non-fossil fuel power generation capacity to 500GW by 2030. Shell Plc on Friday signed a deal to acquire Actis Llp’s Indian renewable energy platform Sprng Energy at an enterprise value of $1.55 billion. Recently, a consortium led by the world’s largest asset manager, BlackRock, and UAE sovereign wealth fund Mubadala Investment Co. also agreed to invest ₹4,000 crore for 10.53% of Tata Power Renewables.