Reliance to invest ₹75,000 crore in ‘new energy’

Company to set up four ‘giga factories’ for solar photovoltaic modules, batteries, electrolysers and fuel cells in Jamnagar

Reliance Industries Ltd. (RIL) on Thursday announced plans to invest ₹75,000 crore in its ‘new energy’ business.

RIL aims to set up four large manufacturing units involving an investment of ₹60,000 crore in three years at Jamnagar, Gujarat.

“We have started work on developing the Dhirubhai Ambani Green Energy Giga Complex on 5,000 acres in Jamnagar,” CMD Mukesh Ambani told shareholders at the company’s 42nd annual general meeting. “It will be among the largest such integrated renewable energy manufacturing facilities in the world.” He said the four factories would make and fully integrate all ‘critical components of the new energy ecosystem’.

“We will build an integrated solar photovoltaic module factory. We will build an advanced energy storage battery factory, an electrolyser factory, and for converting hydrogen into motive and stationary power, we will build a fuel cell factory,” he said. “Reliance will thus create a fully integrated, end-to-end renewables energy ecosystem,” he added.

Mr. Ambani said the Jamnagar complex would offer infrastructure and utilities to make ancillary material and equipment so that all critical materials were available in time. “We will also support independent manufacturers with right capabilities to be part of this nationwide ecosystem. We will invest an additional ₹15,000 crore in value chain, partnerships and future technologies, including upstream and downstream industries.”

‘Affordable smartphone’

Mr. Ambani also announced that the Google and Jio teams had developed an ‘ultra-affordable’, fully featured 4G smartphone — Jiophone Next. The phone would support applications from both Google and Jio as well as from the Android PlayStore.

Developed for the Indian market, the phone would be commercially available from September 10. “JioPhone Next will be by far the most affordable smartphone not just in India but globally,” Mr. Ambani added.

RIL also announced that Saudi Aramco’s chairman Yasir Al-Rumayyan would join the board as an independent director, adding that the RIL-Aramco deal would be formalised in 2021.

“Despite several challenges due to COVID-19, we have made substantial progress in the past year in our discussions. This continued engagement and resolve from both sides, even during this pandemic, is a testimony of strong relationship between Saudi Aramco and Reliance. I expect our partnership to be formalised in an expeditious manner during this year,” he said. In 2019, RIL had said it would sell 20% in its oil-to-chemicals unit to Saudi Aramco for $15 billion.

On the partnership with Facebook, Mr. Ambani said an initial set of integrations between WhatsApp and JioMart had been introduced on a trial basis.

“Our joint teams are developing the full new commerce solution linking merchants and consumers,” the RIL CMD said. The firm planned to unveil these over the next few quarters.

Regarding the partnership with Microsoft, he said, “We have operationalised an initial 10 MW capacity of Jio-Azurecloud data centres in two cities… Jamnagar and Nagpur. We are currently onboarding the initial group of pilot customers and we plan to expand our data centre capacity and our offerings to a growing number of SMEs and start-ups over the coming quarters.”

He pointed out that Jio had taken “tremendous strides” in maturing the state-of-the-art standalone 5G technology, which “signifies a quantum leap to the next frontier of wireless broadband.”

He added that RIL had tested Jio’s 5G solutions in India and had demonstrated “speeds well in excess of 1 Gbps… we are confident of being the first to launch full-fledged 5G services.”

‘Threefold growth’

The firm’s subsidiary Reliance Retail would grow at least threefold in the next 3-5 years, he said. The unit, which aims to be among the top 10 global retailers, would create employment for more than 10 lakh people in three years, he added.

Reliance Retail would continue to acquire businesses to heighten its offering, sharpen omnichannel capabilities, and drive operating efficiencies, Mr. Ambani said.

(With PTI inputs)

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