Starting with four back-to-back deals, billionaire Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Industries (RIL) plans a disruptive foray into the renewable energy space. Reliance New Energy Solar Ltd (RNESL)—the newly floated subsidiary of RIL—is looking to acquire technologies initially to make headway before building the four giga factories in Jamnagar, Gujarat. RIL—which targets 100 gigawatts (GW) renewable energy addition by 2030—plans ₹60,000 crore investment in building giga factories by 2024.

The Norway-based REC Solar Holdings AS—in which RNESL acquired the entire stake for ₹5,782 crore—is known for its technological innovations and superior, high efficiency and long-life solar cells and panels for clean and affordable solar power. The 25-year-old company has three manufacturing facilities—two in Norway for making solar-grade polysilicon and one in Singapore, making PV cells and modules. REC’s Alpha and Alpha Pure range of solar modules are considered as among industry leaders in efficiency, reliability and long guaranteed life. REC has over 600 utility and design patents, of which 446 are granted and balances are under evaluation.

In Sterling & Wilson Solar Ltd, RNESL has agreed to acquire a 40% stake for ₹2,850 crore—as it is one of the leading global engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) and operation and maintenance (O&M) companies in the renewables sector. It provides a comprehensive range of solar energy turnkey solutions including design, procurement, construction, project management and operations and management.

RNESL agreed to invest ₹337 crore in German firm NexWafe as it will get access to processes and technologies to manufacture solar wafers. It plans to build large-scale solar wafer manufacturing facilities as part of giga factories. RNESL will support NexWafe in completing the commercial development of the latter's solar photovoltaic products on prototype lines in Freiburg. The companies will jointly develop technologies and commercialise monocrystalline 'green solar wafers' in India.

In the fourth deal, RNESL signed a cooperation agreement with Denmark-based Stiesdal A/S for technology development, and manufacturing of HydroGen Electrolyzers in India. One of giga factories will manufacture HydroGen Electrolyzers. RNESL and Stiesdal have also agreed to extend their collaboration to the development and implementation of other path-breaking climate change technologies—including offshore wind energy, next-generation fuel cells for conversion of hydrogen to electricity for mobile and static electricity generation, long-duration energy storage and production of carbon-negative fuels.

The giga factories will manufacture and integrate all critical components of the new energy ecosystem—solar photovoltaic module factory, energy storage battery factory, electrolyser factory, fuel cell factory. "We will invest an additional ₹15,000 crore in the value chain, partnerships and future technologies, including upstream and downstream industries. Thus, our overall investment in the new energy business will be ₹75,000 crore in three years," Ambani said at the recent annual general meeting.

Since RNESL is new in the segment, the industry expects more acquisitions and cooperation agreements before beginning the construction of factories.

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