Gautam Adani, 40, got his billions of dollars from a rowdy 15-year-old trader when he left school at 15 and left home for Mumbai’s Diamond District. rice field.
But he’s still in a hurry. Indian businessman Adani is the richest man in Asia, with his net worth surging 1,440% to nearly $120 billion over the past five years, making him the richest man on the planet. Became one of my boyfriends.
A significant portion of its wealth comes from mining, transporting and burning coal. India has doubled fossil fuels to power its fast-growing economy cheaply and reliably, lifting millions out of poverty.
But Adani has pledged tens of billions of dollars to develop renewable energy alongside coal investments, poised to be a decisive force in India’s green future. increase. Depends on how well he balances.
Last year, the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a longtime ally of Adani, pledged to make India net-zero by 2070. .
The country has made some progress towards that goal. Solar-rich India currently ranks him fourth in solar power, with a more than 100-fold increase in power generation capacity from 2011 to 2021. By 2030, increase our energy from renewable sources such as solar, wind and green hydrogen, up from about 40% today.
But Modi’s and Adani’s shared focus on economic growth means India will burn more coal than ever before over the next few decades. This is an urgent global effort to reduce heat-trapping emissions and avert a climate catastrophe in a country projected to have the fastest growth in energy consumption in the world in the coming decades. It raises questions about the role it ultimately plays in
Adani, 60, represents the muscular confidence of a country that will take advantage of a global power realignment amid Russia’s war in Ukraine, while seeking to shift its image from coal baron to climate warrior. , defying criticism of increasing coal expansion.
In an interview at his home in New Delhi, Adani said it was unfair to ask India to sacrifice too much growth for global climate goals. Places like the United States and Europe have been much larger carbon emitters and have benefited from development for centuries.
“India needs to move from developing to developed, and energy is like food,” Adani said. His conglomerate provides “what my country and its citizens need: affordable and reliable power,” he added.
“We always align our business and business philosophy based on the needs of the country,” he said.
A parallel and possibly opposite route Adani and his country are traveling can be seen in the coastal city of Mundra in western Gujarat, where the Adani Group has built India’s largest private port.
Next to Mundra Port are both a solar panel factory and a coal-fired power plant. The once barren, sun-scorched saltmarshes of reclaimed land, now littered with energy-saving signs along driveways and inside factories, are now at the forefront of Mr. Adani’s grip on India’s economic powerhouses. It is a clear symbol.
The company has ambitious plans to expand solar and wind power facilities near the port, but most of the electricity for Adani’s Special Economic Zone in Mundra comes from coal. Conveyors bring imported coal directly from the docks to his two power plants, which constitute India’s largest thermal power plant. The energy produced there will be transmitted as far north as Haryana.
The Adani Group has started manufacturing its own cells for solar panels and plans to engineer the rest of its supply chain in the next few years. The company, which already distributes wind energy through extensive power lines, is also building its own turbines. The company plans to build two battery plants, he said, and invest in green hydrogen, a key component of Adani’s renewable energy strategy.
Adani grew up in a bustling medieval enclave in Ahmedabad, the capital of Gujarat. After leaving home to enter the diamond trade in Mumbai, he returned to run his brother’s small plastic factory. As the Indian economy began to liberalize in his early 1990s, he turned to imports.
In an interview with The New York Times, he said he learned the value of managing the supply chain when his family’s plastics factory faced a severe shortage of polymers. He said he applied that knowledge in the late 1990s when India opened up its economy and faced severe energy shortages. By the early 2000s, 300 to 400 million Indians had no access to electricity.
Adani now oversees a vast $200 billion conglomerate of companies as diverse as apples, cement and military drones, and is on the verge of acquiring India’s last independent news channel. At its core is his energy empire, with private rail lines used to transport coal and other cargo, and a dozen ports on India’s east and west coasts.
His rapid rise didn’t come without controversy. His company was investigated for allegedly providing exaggerated tax cuts on imported equipment and coal, but was eventually cleared.and how Stock price rises 1,200% Over the past two years, Adani Enterprises, a subsidiary focused on new business ventures, has come under scrutiny. Much of the trading activity has been traced back to the tax haven-based holding company, sparking speculation that it is being manipulated.
The rise in the stock market has been particularly remarkable against the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic, which has hit the Indian economy and left hundreds of millions out of work and dependent on government food rations.
In an interview with The Times, Adani said he would welcome regulators to investigate the stock’s movements.
He and his family hold tight control over his conglomerate. He is chairman of all six publicly traded companies, with his brother, son and nephew serving on the board. A subsidiary of Fitch Ratings has warned that the risk of a “key man” is high because the conglomerate has strong ties to Mr. Adani.
According to neighbor and longtime family friend Girish Dani, most of his extended family lives within a mile of his property in Ahmedabad. Mr. Adani and his family, including his wife Preti, a dentist who runs a family foundation, are followers of Jainism, a religion that emphasizes asceticism.
“He’s very soft-spoken and soft-spoken. But in his decisions, he’s very firm,” Dani said.
Journalist RN Bhaskar, who has written two biographies of Mr. Adani, said the first was requested by his family and the second is due for publication next month, but the businessman is still a teenager in Mumbai. He said he is still working as he used to.
Diamond traders say, “Your reaction is lightning fast, you need to be a hustler, think fast, calculate numbers and risks, evaluate clients and collateral, and have the ability to operate on very thin margins.” There is,” he said.
“This is the hallmark of Gautam Adani,” Bhaskar added.
Unlike Gujarat-born billionaire Mukesh Ambani, Adani is known for Mumbai’s opulent skyscrapers and star-studded parties, and is relatively low profile. It’s huge.
Journalists and other observers in Gujarat who have followed Adani’s meteoric rise say he has benefited from a longstanding relationship with Modi, India’s most powerful leader in decades. say.
Adani said he first met Modi about 30 years ago, when the future prime minister, who is also Gujarat, was a fanatical appalachic of the right-wing Hindu fraternity known as the RSS. Adani emphasized that he knew every politician in Gujarat.
By 2001, Mr. Modi had risen to the state’s top position, Prime Minister. In the following year, he was accused of doing little to stop a communal uprising that lasted for months and claimed the lives of more than 1,000 mostly Muslims. was banned.
Mr. Adani participated in an overseas road show promoting Gujarat as an investment destination and appeared with Mr. Modi, contributing to Mr. Modi’s image recovery. In 2014, when Modi became prime minister, he flew to New Delhi on an Adani plane.
Recently, given to Mr. Adani Coal Mining Contract Against Fierce Public Opposition At the Elephant Corridor in Chhattisgarh.And the prime minister’s political alliances in South Asia seem to have given Adani a doorway to development. special economic zone in bangladesh When wind power project in sri lanka.
This has led to widespread perception in India that the relationship between Adani and Modi allows him to do whatever he wants, creating an unequal playing field. Adani said he and Modi had mutual respect, but it wasn’t friendship or special treatment.
“It’s a great job this government has done,” he said.
But Adani’s biggest coup was in Australia. His Carmichael project there is he one of the world’s largest open pit coal mining operations. Achieving that would have required Adani enduring a sustained climate change campaign led by activist Greta Thunberg and negotiating with six Australian governments as the prime minister came and went. After investors pulled out, Adani had to raise $7 billion himself.
The start of mine operations this year was a surprise. India and Australia signed a free trade agreement in April. If the deal is approved, Adani Group will be able to import vast quantities of coal tax-free.
Adani, already the world’s largest coal trader, is poised to become the world’s largest coal importer. So even though Adani’s conglomerate puts his 80% of all capital spending into renewable energy, his remaining 20% is still a problem, Adani’s critics say. .
“We are building large new coal mines and coal-fired power plants, building several more in pipelines that refuse to be shelved, while claiming to be part of the clean energy transition, caring about the climate crisis. It’s absolutely greenwashing,” said Pablo Brait, campaigner for Australian environmental advocacy group Market Forces.
Over the past decade, competition has driven the cost of solar power down so much that it is now as cheap as coal in India, and sometimes even cheaper. However, some of the initial enthusiasm for the Indian solar industry now seems to have faded.
The government is expected to fall well short of its target of 100 gigawatts of grid-connected solar power by the end of this year. The industry is held back by a shortage of technical expertise and a qualified workforce, and a reliance on expensive equipment from China.
Adani Group and others are trying to change the status quo by manufacturing solar panels and other products in India. But at the same time, the war in Ukraine has only reinforced the argument that India’s most powerful politicians and their richest men have gone for coal. can be financed by Adani mines abroad.
Adani described Western climate activists as “one war” and said, “Look at how much danger they are in.”
Suhasini Raj contributed to the report.