Reliance Industries, a fossil fuel giant, is moving into renewables, with company chairman Mukesh Ambani announcing a Rs 75,000 crore investment plan on June 24. India’s solar industry, through Reliance, is making a huge bet on competing with China, while the Indian firm’s move into the sector could even signal the end of the oil era.
In India, industry experts believe that Reliance’s announcement has firmly pushed the renewable sector into the spotlight. “It is very encouraging to see how big corporates in India are making commitments and channelling investment into the clean energy space,” said Vibhuti Garg, energy economist at the US-based Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis. Garg further suggested that Reliance’s announcement will also encourage other companies to invest in the sector, and take the new energy route seriously.
Reliance’s renewables announcement sent shockwaves through the energy industry, just like the company’s aggressive move into mobile internet with its Jio platform and devices in 2016. Jio now dominates the market, and now has ambitious 5G plans. Reliance is hoping that its renewables strategy will lead to similar dominance.
“The company’s vision with launching the new energy business was to aim to bridge the green energy divide in India and globally, similar to bridging the digital divide in India in 2016 [with the launch of its telecom business Reliance Jio],” said lawyer Sonam Chandwani, managing partner at KS Legal & Associates.
In 2016, with the launch of Reliance Jio, the telecom arm of RIL’s subsidiary Jio Platforms, Ambani changed the dynamics of India’s telecoms sector.