Reliance Industries’ purchase of polysilicon maker: A mega step to dominate Indian solar market

Reliance will become the first Indian producer of solar polysilicon

Reliance Industries has made a strategic acquisition in the form a Norway-based maker of solar-grade polysilicon at a cost $777 million (Rs 5,880 cr) from its Chinese owner. REC Solar Holdings has three manufacturing facilities – two in Norway for making solar grade polysilicon and one in Singapore making PV cells and modules.

The 25-year-old company has been purchased from China National Bluestar (Group) Co Ltd.

This is the first time any Indian company has come to own a facility that makes solar grade polysilicon.

Solar grade polysilicon is the black substance that is found in solar panels, and is used in nearly all solar panels.

So far, most of the solar panels sold in India come with polysilicon manufactured in various plants in China.

Manufacturing polysilicon is a very tech-intensive process and also requires a lot of electricity. Norway, being rich in both renewable and non-renewable sources of electricity, is considered an excellent place for energy-intensive operations.

The acquisition of this company could help Reliance Industries emerge as the biggest player in India’s fast-growing solar power market in the next 2 to 3 years, particularly if it is able to create a polysilicon plant in India.

“In India, Reliance plans to use this industry leading technology in their fully integrated, metallic Silicon to PV Panel manufacturing giga factory at Dhirubhai Ambani Green Energy Giga Complex, Jamnagar initially starting with 4 GW per annum capacity and eventually growing to 10 GW per annum,” the Indian company said.

India is keen to reduce its dependency on China for solar panels and cells. However, it has been unable to completely block imports from China as no other country in the world has comparable capacity to produce solar grade polysilicon and wafers.

REC is operationally headquartered in Singapore and has regional hubs in North America, Europe, Australia, and Asia-Pacific. The company’s Alpha and Alpha Pure range of solar modules are recognized as among industry leaders in efficiency, reliability and long guaranteed life, said Reliance Industries.

“The heterojunction (HJT) technology used by REC helps its modules surpass the performance of other commonly used technologies in the industry. REC has over 600 utility and design patents, of which 446 are granted and balance are under evaluation. It always had strong focus on research and development and now, coupled with Reliance’s world-class innovation, scale, and operational excellence, will further accelerate path breaking technological developments and introduction of new products.”

The company was the first to introduce half cut Passivated Emitter and Rear Cell (PERC) technology, which is adopted by all major manufacturers today, while REC has moved on to its, next generation HJT technology. REC’s Norway operation is distinguished by its low carbon footprint in the manufacture of polysilicon, RIL added.

The company has more than 1,300 employees globally.

Reliance said it will strongly support for REC’s planned expansions including 2-3 GW Cells and Module capacity in Singapore, brand new 2 GW Cells and Module unit in France and another 1 GW Modules plant in the US.

REC’s technology will facilitate the establishment of state-of-the-art next-generation fully integrated PV manufacturing facility at Dhirubhai Ambani Green Energy Giga Complex and subsequently replicate such complexes around the world, the Mukesh Ambani-led company said.

The acquisition of REC will help Reliance with a ready global platform and the opportunity to expand and grow in key green energy markets globally, including in the US, Europe, Australia and elsewhere in Asia.

Mukesh Ambani said Reliance has a goal of enabling 100 GW clean and green energy before the end of this decade.

“It will enable India to become a world leader in green energy transition to overcome the climate crisis. 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,” he said.