Mukesh Ambani and Gautam Adani Bet Big on Renewable Energy

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In a late-night statement on November 19, Reliance said the proposed investment to be made by Saudi Arabia’s Aramco in its O2C (oil-to-chemicals) business would be re-evaluated. Importantly, this has been attributed to the “evolving nature of Reliance’s business portfolio”. The deal, announced over two years ago, envisaged Aramco picking up a 20 per cent stake in the O2C business of Reliance.

The statement also makes a mention of Jamnagar, now the base for a major part of the O2C assets, as the centre for “Reliance’s new businesses of renewable energy and new materials, supporting the net-zero commitment”. The thrust on renewable energy, with this announcement, is a clear indication of a new strategy within Reliance.

Meanwhile, on September 21—three months after the Reliance AGM—Gautam Adani addressed the JP Morgan India Investor Summit and declared that his group would invest $20 billion in renewable energy generation, component manufacturing, transmission and distribution over the next decade, embellishing an already significant body of work done by the Adani Group in the past few years. With a portfolio of 25 GW (including operational and in-the-pipeline projects), Adani said this investment “puts us well on track to be the world’s largest renewable power generating company by 2030”. The billionaire went on to point out that of the group’s current EBITDA from utilities, 43 per cent comes from the green business. “Our actions clearly indicate that we are putting our money where our mouth is: Over 75 per cent of our planned capex until 2025 will be in green technologies,” Adani said.

The duo’s proposed cumulative investment of $30 billion (a mammoth Rs 2.23 lakh crore) will shake up the 15-year-old renewable energy ecosystem in India, and will go across every form of renewable energy, be it solar, wind, hybrid or even hydrogen. Their paths, however, look different. Ambani’s use of the world “enable” is leading most people to interpret that part of his grand plan is to be a key equipment supplier. On the other hand, Adani is already into power generation, transmission and distribution, and will continue on that path, adding more parts to the whole on the way.

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