India’s Two Richest Tycoons Race To Be No. 1 – At Being Green

India’s two richest industrialists are racing to be first to scale the mountain; but not necessarily the moutain of money, although it’s called green.

Mukesh Ambani, chairman of Reliance Industries, the country’s largest private sector company by turnover, and Gautam Adani, who runs Adani Group, both lead huge conglomerates whose separate interests include petrochemicals, airports and ports, electricity, renewable energy, edible oils, defense and city gas distribution, among others.

And Both have outlined ambitious plans on the Green Energy front.

Ambani, India’s richest person, acording to the 2020 Forbes India’s 100 Richest People list, outlined Reliance Group’s green energy vision at the companies annual shareholders’ meeting in June.

Adani, second on the richest list, spoke at lenght about his renewable energy push at a recent JP Morgan India Investor Summit.

Both men hail from the western Indian State of Gujarat. While Ambani is based in Mumbai, India’s financial capital, Adani operates out of Ahmedabad in Gujarat.

The Green Energy push by the two industrialists comes in the wake of India’s stated aim to have 450 GW of renewable energy capacity by 2030. At present, renewable energy – wind and solar – capacity at about 85 GW makes up about 22 percent of India’s total installed power generation capacity of 388 GW.

The Adani group already has a presence in the renewable energy sector through its publicly listed company Adani Green Energy Ltd., which has built up a portfolio of 5.37 GW of renewable energy capacity (wind and solar); it has another 5.42 GW of projects under execution and 9 GW of projects nearing the construction stage, making a total of 19.7 GW of locked in capacity, according to information available on the company’s website.

At the shareholders’ meeting, Ambani said the Reliance group would launch its New Energy business this year. “And we will do it – like we have always done – by getting our first principles right,” he added. Reliance, he said, had established the Reliance New Energy Council, which will have the best of global talent to validate strategies and embrace disruptive technologies to achieve its goals, he added.

As a first step, Ambani said, Reliance had started work on the Dhirubhai Ambani Green Energy Giga Complex on 5,000 acres in Jamnagar in Gujarat. It will be among the largest such integrated renewable energy manufacturing facilities in the world, Ambani said. “Jamnagar was the cradle of our old energy business. Jamnagar will also be the cradle of our new energy business,” he emphasized. Reliance Industries’s worldscale petroleum refinery is located in Jamnagar.

Ambani outlined a three-part plan for the Green Energy business. The first was to build four Giga factories, which would manufacture and fully integrate all the critical components of the new energy ecosystem. The group will build an integrated solar photovoltaic module factory, an advanced energy storage battery factory, an electrolyzer factory and a fuel cell factory for converting hydrogen into motive and stationary power. The group will invest 750 billion rupees ($10 billion) over the next three years on these initiatives. Reliance will establish and enable at least 100 GW of solar energy by 2030, a significant part of which will come from rooftop solar and decentralized solar installations in villages.

Outlining the Adani group’s plans, Gautam Adani said the group would invest $20 billion over the next 10 years on renewable energy generation, component manufacturing, and transmission and distribution. Nearly 75 percent of the group’s planned capital expenditure until 2025 would be on green technologies. The group planned to triple its renewable power generation capacity over the next four years.

Speaking at length about climate change and the challenges it posed, Adani told the JP Morgan India Investor Summit that this would throw up opportunities worth trillions of dollars in the next decade as technologies rapidly evolved. There would be next-generation, high-efficiency solar panels, new materials that would make a massive wind blade affordable, mainstreaming of carbon capture technologies, smarter and distributed power grids, and green hydrogen technologies.

There is a real possibility, Adani said, that the marginal price of green power would drop sharply as technologies become compatible and economies of scale kick in. All this would usher in the next big manufacturing boom, with thousands of jobs being created. “Today, we are already the world’s largest solar power player, when we account for our generating, under construction and contracted projects,” he said. The group’s aim was to be the largest solar power player by 2025 and world’s largest renewable power generating company by 2030.

With both Ambani and Adani, known for their mega-sized plans and execution capabilities, outlining grand plans, the Green Energy sector in the country is in for a major transformation.

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