Billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries Ltd. is considering a bid for Indian government incentives for solar power manufacturing, as the fossil-fuels giant begins a $10 billion push into clean energy, according to people familiar with the plans.

Reliance, India’s most valuable company, attended a pre-bid meeting held last month to discuss the subsidy program, the people said, asking not to be named as the information is private.

The talks underline Ambani’s ambitions for the company to make rapid growth in renewable energy to supplement its existing businesses. Reliance said last month it plans to build factories to produce solar components, energy storage batteries, electrolyzers for making green hydrogen and fuel cells.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has announced financial benefits for manufacturing in a range of sectors, including solar energy and batteries, to revive an economy battered by the pandemic and to reduce dependence on imports. Souring relations with China, India’s biggest trade partner and supplier of nearly 80% of the country’s solar modules, have bolstered the push for self-dependence.

It’s an opportunity that’s drawing local and foreign investors. State-run miner Coal India Ltd., which is examining new businesses to offset a slowdown in demand for the fuel, is also considering putting in bids for subsidies to manufacture solar equipment, the people said. U.S. firm CubicPV Inc. said this month it’s looking for an Indian partner to jointly bid for the incentives.

Reliance and Coal India didn’t immediately respond to emails seeking comment.

India, the world’s third-biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, plans to expand its renewable power capacity nearly five-fold to 450 gigawatts by the end of the decade, aiming to reduce dependence on fossil fuels that currently drive its economy. Solar power will account for around 62% of the 2030 target, meaning the country will need to add about 26 gigawatts of capacity annually for the next nine years. The country’s own factories can currently meet less than half the demand for modules.

The government is giving 45 billion rupees ($603 million) to companies setting up solar manufacturing facilities. Proposals like the plan Reliance unveiled last month, to make the entire chain of products — from raw material polysilicon to finished modules — would win preferential treatment, ministry documents show.

Source: Live Mint