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Reliance to invest in Bill Gates’ climate change firm Breakthrough Energy
Photo Credit: VCCircle

Reliance Industries Ltd has decided to invest $50 million (about Rs 373 crore at current exchange rates) in a US-based firm set up by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates to battle climate change.

The Indian company, which owns the world’s biggest oil refining complex, said in a stock-exchange filing it will make the investment in Breakthrough Energy Ventures II, LP in tranches over the next eight to 10 years.

The capital contribution constitutes 5.75% of the size of the fund contemplated at present.

Reliance, led by Asia’s richest man Mukesh Ambani, said Breakthrough Energy seeks to find solutions to the climate crisis by flexibly investing to develop breakthrough energy and agriculture technologies. It will invest the funds raised from the investors to support innovation in clean energy solutions.

The results of these efforts would have significant relevance for India and also provide good returns to the investors, Reliance said.

The announcement comes four years after Ambani, along with Gates, Alibaba’s Jack Ma and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, had set up Breakthrough Energy, in a $1 billion deal, to fight climate change by innovating in green energy.

To be sure, the transaction is still subject to an approval from India’s central bank, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). Reliance has said that the deal is not a ‘related party transaction’ as none of its promoters or group companies have any interest in it. 

Several global hydrocarbon energy companies have been talking about moving into green solutions in the recent past. Earlier this week, British oil and gas major BP Plc said that it plans to move into green hydrogen production by creating clean-burning gas using wind power at one of its German refineries. 

BP will look at creating clean-burning gas by utilising renewable power produced by wind energy developer Orstead at its North Sea wind farms. The process will split water into hydrogen and oxygen at the Lingen refinery and will commence in 2024. 

Even Saudi Arabia, one of the world’s largest producers and exporters of fossil fuels, has been looking to diversify into green energy. Apart from investing billions of dollars in mega-scale solar projects, the country is also looking at green hydrogen. 

The country is developing a futuristic city named Neom beside the Red Sea, at a cost of $500 billion. The city, which will have flying taxi robots, will be powered by green hydrogen, the BBC reported on Friday. 

The BBC report said that while the US has been cold to the new fuel, countries and companies across Europe, Asia and West Asia have been working toward its adoption as a viable alternative to fossil fuels. 

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