January 25, 2014

Reliance Industries to invest in Algae.Tec and fund its first India Plant

Continuing in its rapid expansion in diverse fields, Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) has announced an investment in Australian algae fuel developer Algae.Tec's first Indian biofuel plant. The Indian Market represents a possible huge market for the Perth-based company and many companies are eyeing setting up shop here.

Mukesh Ambani owned RIL will initially invest $1.5 million in the Australian company followed by $1.2 million at a later date. Using the initial capital, Algae.Tec plans to build a pilot biofuels plants using its algae fuel technology. Reliance Industrial Investments and Holdings Limited (RIIHL) will fund the small pilot plant - which will capture Co2 emissions and turn this into algae for use as biofuels.

This pilot plant is designed with a view to modify the present technology to suit the local conditions. This will most probably lead to a larger demonstration plant. In the future though, we anticipate that RIL and Algae.Tec will join forces to establish commercial plants in India. In that respect, Reliance has the edge as it has exclusivity over the technology in the India market.

While various people have been speculating over the location of this pilot plant, sources say that it will be amidst the huge petroleum refineries in Jamnagar, Gujarat.

Algae.Tec has been confident about the positive impact the company's technology will have on India's energy sector. The Australian company's managing director Peter Hatfull is of the opinion that algae technology had the potential to make a significant impact on India's energy and environmental requirements. He was further quoted as saying, "This is a major step for us. India is a perfect market place for our technology It is an absolutely gigantic market" (Sic). These comments come on the back of widespread criticism of the Indian energy sector which hasn't ceased its huge reliance on coal-fired generation and the lack for demand of clean biofuels.

In December 2013, Algae.Tec said it would focus on the 'nutraceuticals' market. Nutraceuticals are dietary supplements that support physical and mental health. The company's move away from algal fuels was influenced by the low capital costs of the former, as well as the potential for high gross margins on revenue, and significant market potential. With this move, the revenue that the company expects to generate in the next three years is significantly more than its present as the nutraceuticals market is touted to be worth $205 billion globally by 2017.

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