Elon Musk Gives Indian Prime Minister Tour of Tesla Factory, Talks Battery Storage and Solar
It was a simple official visit and as per media reports, there was no talk of Tesla setting up manufacturing facilities in India. The company, however, stated earlier that India could be “one of the potential markets in Asia to have a local assembly plant” if the government moves towards a pro-electric vehicle policy.
If and when that happens, the real opportunity for India here is to leapfrog the conventional grid and move straight to distributed generation (and consumption) of power, something similar to what happened in the telecom sector where most of the country got connected via mobile telephony, without having to go through the landline model.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) September 27, 2015
But the important thing which the visit did achieve was to start discussions on Powerwall usage in India. As a proof, you can look at the comments from those discussing the (un)economics of the battery and spammers trying to drive some traffic to their sites. Even at its launch, the Powerwall was discussed in the niche forums in India quite extensively.
At both times, the battery got dismissed outright as “a too costly to consider” solution.
I have one small issue (and one big rant) with these (as I call them) pseudo-economic-experts. The problem with their discourse is that, to use an idiom, they miss the forest for the trees. They have no idea of the future and certainly no understanding of how technology pricing works.
At least for us in the cleantech space, this has become a regular (boring) cycle now.
Think of any new development—and all these people want to talk about is its cost right now. If the current costs are high (which, unsurprisingly, they are), the product/technology gets labeled as just another toy for rich green people.
Don’t get me wrong—the cost is a very important issue. But it is insane to dismiss the whole idea as forever infeasible.
World’s first hard drive with a mighty 5 MB storage. Photo credit: Wired
My personal favorite anecdotes to counter these “experts” is to talk about cost disruptions in (quite obviously) solar PV and memory storage devices. Another famous quote to pull off at times like these is what Thomas Watson (CEO of IBM) allegedly said in 1943—“I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.”
I believe that to reject a technology by focusing only on its current cost rather than its future potential creates an artificial barrier for the technology. This is especially harmful for the cleantech industry, as it pushes the affordability tipping point by reducing the number of early adopters (what I mean).
Similar is the case with rooftop solar. Even though it generally makes complete economic sense to go solar, ordinary folks get biased due to the confusion created by passing remarks from pseudo experts. This reduces the number of people who want to make the jump, starves the market, banks hesitate from financing such projects/products and from there onwards you can figure out the vicious cycle yourself.