Why is RIL acquiring SenseHawk, a solar software firm

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Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) is acquiring a majority stake in a US-based software firm SenseHawk Inc for $32 million. The company said on Tuesday it has signed definitive agreements to acquire a majority stake in SenseHawk, including funding for future growth, commercial rollout of products, and R&D.

That simply means RIL as a majority stakeholder will be driving and managing all the critical aspects of SenseHawk founded in 2018 by Swarup Mavanoor and Rahul Sankhe. The California-based early-stage software development firm builds software-based management tools for the solar energy generation industry.

SenseHawk offers SDP (Solar Digitization Platform) SaaS for process optimization, automation, and asset information management to solar energy companies. The SaaS platform allows end-to-end management of solar asset lifecycles.

Why is RIL acquiring SenseHawk – an early-stage software startup and what’s the vision behind its move?

In the past decade or more, RIL’s Chairman and MD Mukesh Ambani have been expanding the company’s business beyond petrochemicals.

And that led the company to launch its digital business arm Jio Platforms, which has rolled out Jio mobile and JioFibre broadband services, Jio Mart – an online grocery service, and more.

New Energy business initiative

Besides, Reliance has ventured into the areas of clean and green energy through its New Energy business initiative. During the company’s AGM last month, Ambani laid out production and expansion plans in solar, green hydrogen and battery manufacturing.

With a strong focus on the New Energy business, the company is investing Rs 60,000 crore ( around $7.5 million) over the next three years to construct large-scale state-of-the-art facilities to manufacture and integrate critical components of the new energy ecosystem.

These include integrated manufacturing facilities for solar photovoltaic, advanced energy storage systems, electrolysers, mobility solutions and, power electronics and semiconductors. In addition, it is constructing manufacturing facilities for basic raw and auxiliary materials; and R&D facilities for all new energy technologies.

Investments and Acquisitions

With its strategic and futuristic vision, Reliance also has set up its subsidiary, Reliance New Energy Ltd (RNEL). Under this RNEL it drives its New Energy business initiatives including investments and acquisitions.

Through RNEL, Reliance has acquired three technology-led companies including sodium-ion battery technology company Faradion, assets of Lithium Werks and REC Solar Holdings AS (REC Group) – a leading solar cells/panels and polysilicon manufacturing company.

Reliance has also acquired majority stakes in clean mobility solution provider skyTran Inc, which is a futuristic rapid transit system. And now solar software firm SenseHawk is the latest addition to its expanding portfolio of companies in the clean energy domain.

Solar energy assets management

Probably, RIL could combine all its acquired assets and technologies around solar energy and provide end-to-end solar energy assets management solutions leveraging SenseHawk’s SDP. And such possibilities can’t be ruled out in the near future as far as RIL is considered.

The global market for renewable energy monitoring and control (M&C) solutions is expected to reach an estimated $82.9 billion in cumulative revenue between 2019 and 2028, at a CAGR of 12.5%, as per a new report from Navigant Research.

“We welcome SenseHawk and its dynamic team to our family. RIL is committed to revolutionising the Green Energy sector and has the vision to enable 100 GW of solar energy by 2030,” Ambani said in a statement.

“In collaboration with SenseHawk, we will drive down costs, enhance productivity and improve on-time performance to deliver the lowest LCoE for solar projects globally and make solar energy the go-to source of power in lockstep with our vision for solar energy,” added Ambani.

SenseHawk’s CEO and Co-Founder Swarup Mavanoor said RIL has demonstrated confidence in them with this investment. “The SenseHawk team foresees strategic value in working with RIL, as one of the largest global infrastructure corporations, and look forward to this next phase in our growth.”

“We are on a mission to improve the solar energy ecosystem, acquiring 50% of the market by 2025 and with RIL as our partner, we will accelerate our execution toward that goal,” added Rahul Sankhe, President and Co-Founder of SenseHawk.

Acquiring a majority stake in SenseHawk is not a mere investment for RIL, but a strategic one to achieve the future vision and goal of clean and green energy. It announced a Rs 75,000 crore investment plan for green energy in 2021.

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