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Business deals

India's Reliance buys REC Solar for $771m from Chinese owner

Conglomerate plans to invest $10.1bn in clean energy over three years

A REC solar panel manufacturing plant employee makes a final inspection on panels.    © Reuters

NEW DELHI (Reuters) -- India's Reliance Industries on Sunday announced acquisition of REC Solar Holdings for an enterprise value of $771 million from China National Bluestar (Group) as it seeks to become net carbon zero by 2035.

The purchase of the Norwegian solar panel maker by the conglomerate's Reliance New Energy Solar follows the June announcement by the parent - operator of the world's biggest refining complex - that it would invest $10.1 billion in clean energy over three years. 

Reliance, owned by Asia's richest man, Mukesh Ambani, plans to build solar capacity of at least 100 gigawatts (GW) by 2030, accounting for over a fifth of India's target of installing 450 GW by the end of this decade.

The group aims to build four "giga factories" to produce solar cells and modules, energy storage batteries, fuel cells and green hydrogen.

"Together with our other recent investments, Reliance is now ready to set up a global scale integrated Photovoltaic Giga factory and make India a manufacturing hub for lowest cost and highest efficiency solar panels," Ambani said in the statement.

RNESL said in August it would invest $50 million in U.S. energy storage company Ambri as part of a $144 million investment by Reliance Industries, along with billionaire Bill Gates, investment management firm Paulson & Co and others. 

Globally, oil majors such as Royal Dutch Shell and BP have also set goals to become net zero-carbon firms by 2050 amid pressure from investors and climate activists.

Solar installations across the world are set this year for their fastest growth in five years, according to data research firm IHS Markit. 

Ambani said his firm would continue to invest and collaborate with global players to provide reliable and affordable power to customers in India and overseas markets.

Reliance said it would use REC's technology in its PV Panel making giga factory, with initial annual capacity of 4 GW, eventually rising to 10 GW.

The acquisition would help Reliance grow in key green energy markets globally, including in the United States, Europe, Australia and elsewhere in Asia, it said, adding it would support REC's planned expansions in Singapore, France and the United States.

Reliance's green push comes as India raises its renewable energy capacity, currently about 100 GW, to meet about two-fifths of its electricity needs by 2030 under the Paris climate accord.

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