Mukesh Ambani’s next target in the solar game: a battery tech company


The next acquisition of Reliance New Energy Solar Ltd (RNESL), led by Mukesh Ambani, will be a battery technology company as Asia’s richest man seeks to supplement his arsenal across the spectrum of energy activities solar energy and shatter Chinese hegemony on a global scale, according to industry experts.

“Next in line, if I look at their chessboard, I think they’ll go for a battery technology acquisition,” said Ratnadip Bhattacharjee, CEO and Director of ArrayTech Technologies Pvt Ltd, a design and development services company. solar engineering.

Then its entire tech circle including solar modules, panels, cells, wafers and batteries is completed, Bhattacharjee said.

Also Read: Reliance New Energy Announces 8,600 Purchases

According to an industry consultant, storage is “an area that has always been difficult for the solar industry.”

“Once it also has the battery technology under its control, it can generate electricity whenever the sun is available, store it, and supply it according to demand so that there is no no lag between production and consumption, ”said the consultant.

Battery technology will also help the electric vehicle industry move forward.

New energy company

Ambani’s strategy and vision for his foray into the new energy sector has started to unfold with the wave of recent acquisitions he has made, mostly on the tech side.

“Trust is putting the pawns in the right place,” says Bhattacharjee. “Ambani is acquiring technology, companies that have good technology in this area,” he said.

Read more: Reliance New Energy invests $ 29 million in German solar photovoltaic company

Reliance’s strategy of viewing the solar business as a technology and not a short-term lucrative or small business is electrifying the industry.

“Ambani sees the business globally not in terms of managing tariffs, not as a lobbying opportunity and those things, but as a business in itself. He’s taking on China on the world stage, you can’t fight someone by raising tariffs. He’s not looking to go after China for the Indian part of the business, ”Bhattacharjee said.

With the exception of Sterling & Wilson Solar Ltd, an EPC company, the acquisition of Norwegian solar cell, panel and polysilicon manufacturer REC Solar Holdings AS, German monocrystalline green solar wafer developer NexWafe GmbH and the he cooperation agreement with the Danish company Stiesdal A / S for the technological development and manufacture of HydroGen electrolysers in India, shows the direction of Ambani’s new energy game.

“In this industry, you can only survive if you have the technology and the scale. Scale is still their strength, scale is not a problem for Reliance to manage. So he attacks the technology. If you don’t have those two, you’re only going to run after government lobbying to impose tariffs here or other levies there because you’re never competitive. None of the Indian companies are not only competitive, they don’t even make decent solar panels compared to Chinese panels, and are far behind technologically, ”said a second solar industry official.

Aims to be a global player

Using an inferior panel increases the cost of installing solar power plants, and the only way the local industry can survive is to get the government to impose fees here and there.

Reliance sees it as a global business, not just for India. Ambani wants to be the key supplier to the entire solar industry. For this, Reliance needs technology and scale because otherwise it cannot be a global player in this field.

“The problem with the solar industry today is that most of the people who know the technology are in China. It is very difficult to enter China and control this technology, so he chose the Europeans for the technology, ”the executive said.

From this perspective, the $ 771 million acquisition of REC Solar Holdings AS is seen as Ambani’s first attack on Chinese rule. Although based in Norway, REC was owned by Beijing-based chemicals and specialty materials company, China National Bluestar (Group) Co Ltd (Bluestar).

“REC is one of the last module companies outside of China, which also has good technology, albeit a bit expensive. But, if you have the technology, the price is manageable, ”the industry official said.

Solar module technology

Outside of China, there is currently very little technology available for manufacturing solar modules or cells, as most companies have folded.

All the major solar module manufacturers around the world have lost to Chinese manufacturers. “If you are looking for a company with large and fast production capabilities as well as manufacturing technology, REC is a very good choice by Reliance,” he said.

NexWafe is a wafer maker, again with good technology, helping Reliance expand its reach into wafer and cell based solar technology.

Both are considered good buys, because otherwise Reliance would have to shop in China, which might be difficult for Ambani to take a Chinese company and get their hands on the technology. “Buying a business is easy, but grabbing the technology is very difficult in this area,” the industry official said.

The solar industry is characterized by constantly evolving technology.

“None of the Indian manufacturers in the solar sector has control over the technological part of it. They are basically just followers. Because it’s the technological game with which you can beat others. So I find the acquisition of Reliance very thoughtful. They are a recent entrant in this industry but have actually understood the basics of this business better than others, ”added Bhattacharjee.

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