Ambani’s new energy business is on an investment spree to create Jio-like success

Clean and green.
Clean and green.
Image: REUTERS/Amit Dave
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Reliance New Energy Solar (RNEL) is a four-month-old in a hurry.

From two $1.14 billion acquisitions announced a few days ago to two more big-ticket deals in the past few hours, the wholly-owned subsidiary of Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries (RIL) has been on an investment spree.

Today (Oct. 13), the company formed in June this year announced a $45 million investment in German firm Nexwafe.

“(It) will accelerate product and technology development for NexWafe, including completion of the commercial development of NexWafe’s solar photovoltaic products on prototype lines in Freiburg,” said a midnight RIL press statement.

Moments later, it issued another release: RIL and Denmark-based Stiesdal had signed a cooperation agreement for technology development and manufacturing of Stiesdal’s HydroGen Electrolysers in India.

Electrolysers use electrolysis, the process of separating elements from their compound using electricity, to split water and produce hydrogen and oxygen.

The serial deals seem to be replicating the 2020 pattern set by RIL’s tech subsidiary Jio Platforms. It is also aligned with Ambani’s vision to set up a 5,000-acre green energy giga complex named after his father in Jamnagar, Gujarat.

RIL moves aligned with giga factory plans

The Dhirubhai Ambani Green Energy Giga Complex will include four factories focused on the clean energy business. These include a battery-making unit and an integrated solar photovoltaic plant.

Referring to the Stiesdal deal, Ambani said, “It is an important step towards fulfilling our commitment to accelerate India’s transition to green energy benefitting from our vast solar energy sources and scaling up innovative and leading technologies to meet this objective.”

Industry experts, meanwhile, believe RIL’s plans have now firmly placed the spotlight on the clean energy sector.

“It’s very encouraging to see how big corporates in India are making commitments and channelling investment into the clean energy space,” Vibhuti Garg, energy economist at the US-based Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, had earlier told Quartz.

However, can RIL’s push in the area repeat a Jio-like success?

What Ambani did with Jio Platforms

In 2020, Jio Platforms raised over 1.52 lakh crore rupees ($20 billion) from investors, including Google and Facebook.

This helped it go debt-free in only 58 days and emerge as the strongest player in some significant sectors in India.

Built on the success of Reliance Jio, RIL’s telecom venture Jio Platforms dabbles across most new-tech segments: cloud, media, digital commerce, financial services, gaming, education, healthcare, agriculture, e-governance, and smart cities.

For RNEL, there is a similarly wide board to play. And the company seems to be placing its pieces well.