India’s richest man is pouring more than $80 billion into green energy

His group, Reliance Industries, announced Thursday that it will allocate 6 trillion rupees (about $80.6 billion) to renewable energy projects in the western Indian state of Gujarat, where it hopes to help create one million new jobs.

The company said in a statement to the stock exchange that the bulk of this money – about 67.7 billion dollars – will go to a new power plant and hydrogen system. Reliance plans to make huge investments over a period of 10 to 15 years and has already begun searching for land for a 100 GW site.

The company also plans to establish a new manufacturing center dedicated to the production of solar panels, fuel cell technology, and other renewable energy sources.

Reliance said the new initiatives stem from the “vision” of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The company’s forecast of 1 million jobs includes direct and indirect new opportunities at Modi.
Renewable energy is taking off in India. Last year, new installations for such projects across the country were expected to double, compared to those from 2015 to 2020.
This trend comes at a critical time. As of late last year, coal still accounts for roughly 70% of the country’s electricity generation.
That put the world’s second most populous country on a weak spot recently as it faced the risks of the coal crisis last October, with stocks of the commodity at most Indian power plants dropping to extremely low levels.
India's power plants suffer from a serious shortage of coal

Reliance is one of the most valuable and recognizable companies in India. The giant company – which includes petrochemicals, telecommunications and retail – has long been trying to reduce its dependence on oil.

It has also undergone a shift in focus recently as Ambani’s boss, its boss, seeks to turn it into a global tech giant.

In its Thursday statement, Reliance said it would use the remaining funds to invest “in existing and new projects over the next three to five years.”

During that time, the company wants to channel $1 billion to upgrade its mobile network to 5G, spending about $406 million on its retail arm.

Diksha Madhok contributed to this report.

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