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An Indian coal billionaire’s green energy shift has made him Asia’s richest person

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Indian coal tycoon Gautam Adani has dethroned the chairman of Reliance Industries, Mukesh Ambani, to become Asia’s richest man.

The chairman and founder of the Adani Group now has a net worth of $88.5 billion (6.6 trillion rupees or 6.6 lakh crore rupees), and is now among the world’s 10 richest billionaires in the world, according to Bloomberg Billionaire Index. He’s the only industrialist in that list, which is dominated by tech entrepreneurs.

The Adani Group’s business include coal production, thermal power generation, and infrastructure. It is India’s largest private port operator and is expanding its airports business. Adani’s added wealth is due to his investment spree in the renewable energy sector.

Since the onset of the pandemic, Adani has been witnessing a steady rise in his net worth, which has doubled compared with this time last year. This year alone, his wealth has grown by $12 billion, according to the Bloomberg index.

Earlier this month on Feb. 4, Adani overtook Meta Platforms CEO Mark Zuckerberg after the social media billionaire experienced a loss of $29 billion in net worth after the US company’s stock witnessed a record decline in the wake of its earnings report, eroding over $200 billion of value.

Gautam Adani’s green energy push

The 59-year-old commodities billionaire has made headlines to his controversial Carmichael coal mine project in Australia, the focus of sustained climate activism in the country. But in recent years, Adani has also made a major expansion into the green energy space.

In October last year, Adani Green Energy’s completed its acquisition of Soft Bank’s SB Energy at $3.5 billion. The deal was termed one of the largest in India’s renewable sector. The green energy unit’s share price has surged 80% in the past year, giving it a market cap of about $40 billion as of Feb. 8.

In December 2021, Adani Green Energy signed an agreement with the Solar Energy Corporation of India to supply it 4,667 MW of power.

Adani also plans to invest $70 billion in the next decade across the new energy sector with the aim of becoming the world’s largest renewable energy producer in the next decade—a sector in which he’ll face intense competition from rival billionaire Ambani’s Reliance Industries.

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