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India’s Reliance accelerates push into renewable energy with two acquisitions

© Supplied by BloombergMukesh Ambani, chairman of Reliance Industries, in 2019.
Mukesh Ambani, chairman of Reliance Industries, in 2019.

Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries (NSE:RELIANCE) acquired a Norwegian solar panel maker and an Indian builder of renewable projects in a bid by the oil-to-retail conglomerate to extend its dominance into alternative energy.

Reliance, the company controlled by Asia’s richest person, acquired solar panel manufacturer REC Solar Holdings AS in a deal giving the company an enterprise value of $771 million, it said in a filing on Sunday. Hours later Reliance said it had agreed to acquire 40% of billionaire Pallonji Mistry’s Sterling & Wilson Solar Ltd., valued at $372 million as of Friday’s close in Mumbai.

The two acquisitions — REC Solar was purchased from China National Bluestar Group Co. — will help Reliance New Energy Solar expand in renewable energy markets globally, including the US, Europe, Australia and elsewhere in Asia. Ambani’s push aligns with Prime Minister Narendra Modi goal of helping India, the world’s third-biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, more than quadruple renewable power capacity to 450 gigawatts by the end of this decade.

Ambani pledged in June to spend $10 billion on alternative energy over three years. The new investments are meant to pivot the conglomerate to cleaner fuels. Reliance gets nearly 60% of its annual revenue from its oil-related business. Saudi Aramco is also in discussions for the purchase of a roughly 20% stake in Reliance’s refining and chemicals business.

Fossil fuels giant Reliance will invest $10bn in Indian renewable energy

REC makes solar grade polysilicon and solar panels and modules at facilities in Norway and Singapore, and has more than 1,300 employees globally, according to the statement. Reliance will use REC’s technology to manufacture metallic silicon and solar panels at its gigafactory at Jamnagar in Gujarat. The factory’s annual capacity will expand to 10 gigawatts from 4 gigawatts.

Sterling & Wilson has presence in 24 countries and has installed 11 gigawatt of solar power projects, Reliance said in a separate statement.

“It is in line with our strategy of investing in new and advanced technologies and operating capabilities aimed at achieving Reliance’s goal of enabling 100 GW clean and green energy before the end of this decade,” Ambani said in the statement.

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