Indian conglomerate Reliance Industries Ltd. on Sunday announced two deals to buy solar capacity, as the owner of the world’s biggest refining complex seeks to become net carbon zero by 2035 and make India a hub for low-cost solar manufacture.
Through its unit Reliance New Energy Solar Ltd., Reliance is buying Norwegian-headquartered solar panel maker REC Solar Holdings for US$771-million from China National Bluestar (Group) Co. Ltd. and an up to 40-per-cent stake in India’s Sterling and Wilson Solar.
Reliance in June said it would invest US$10.1-billion in clean energy over three years.
Owned by Asia’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani, the company plans to build solar capacity of at least 100 gigawatts by 2030, accounting for more than a fifth of India’s target of installing 450 gigawatts by the end of this decade.
India relies on coal for more than 70 per cent of its generation and only 4 per cent is produced through solar power.
Mr. Ambani said in a statement on Sunday that Reliance was ready to set up “a global scale integrated photovoltaic giga factory” with initial annual capacity of 4 gigawatts, eventually rising to 10.
He said buying REC Solar would help Reliance expand in Australia, Europe, the United States and also elsewhere in Asia and that it was seeking to make India a hub for the manufacture of the lowest-cost, highest-efficiency solar panels.
All fossil fuel companies are facing pressure from investors and campaigners to reduce emissions to limit global warming and oil majors including Royal Dutch Shell Plc and BP Plc have set goals to become net zero-carbon firms by 2050.
The statements on Sunday said RNESL’s 40-per-cent stake in Sterling and Wilson Solar Ltd. will be made through investment, secondary purchase and an open offer. Reliance did not disclose the full value of that deal but has agreed to acquire new share and promoter’s stake in Sterling and Wilson at 375 rupees each.
In August, RNSEL said it would invest US$50-million in U.S. energy storage.
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