India might still be a developing economy, but there’s an area in which it appears to be marching faster than even its better-off counterparts — green energy.
The Adani Group and French energy giant TotalEnergies have entered into a new partnership to jointly create the world’s largest green hydrogen ecosystem. In this strategic alliance, TotalEnergies will acquire 25% minority interest in Adani New Industries (ANIL) from Adani Enterprises (AEL). The firm will invest $50 billion over 10 years in green hydrogen and, in its initial phase, build a production capacity of 1 million tonne a year for green hydrogen before 2030.
“The partnership with TotalEnergies adds several dimensions that include R&D, market reach and an understanding of the end consumer,” said Adani Group Chairman Gautam Adani. “This fundamentally allows us to shape market demand. This is why I find the continued extension of our partnership to hold such great value,” Adani said.
Adani claimed that the the partnership would produce the world’s cheapest green hydrogen. “Our confidence in our ability to produce the world’s least expensive electron is what will drive our ability to produce the world’s least expensive green hydrogen. This partnership will open up a number of exciting downstream pathways,” he added.
Green hydrogen is hydrogen which is produced using renewable sources of energy. Hydrogen is typically produced using methods which pollute and create emissions, but green hydrogen is produced without the accompanying pollution. This clean hydrogen can then be used in the production of fertilizers and in steel plants. It is also used as a fuel in the shipping and transportation industries. Green hydrogen has some consumer-facing uses too — Roads and Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari had recently driven to Parliament in an experimental car that was powered entirely by green hydrogen.
But Gautam Adani isn’t the only Indian trying to produce cheap green hydrogen — fellow billionaire Mukesh Ambani has his eyes on it as well. While Adani has only now declared he’ll produce the world’s cheapest green hydrogen, Ambani had made the same promise last year. In 2021, Ambani had spoken about producing green hydrogen at $1 a kg, which he had said was the lowest cost in the world, and about 60 percent lower than what it was at that time. He had said Reliance will “aggressively pursue” the $1 a kg target and “achieve it well before the turn of this decade”.
It’s a rivalry that seems to be quickly developing in India — the country’s two richest men are battling among themselves to produce to cheapest clean energy possible. Last June, Ambani had announced Reliance’s foray into green energy space with investments of Rs. 75,000 crore in the following three years. Adani, meanwhile, apart from investing $50 billion into green hydrogen, is already one of India’s largest producers of solar power, and is running a series of clean energy initiatives. In the US, the two richest men, Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, are currently competing to taking humanity to space. India’s two richest men, on the other hand, seem to be vying to bring cleaner energy right here on earth.