According to a local media report, Tesla has applied to the German government for subsidies for battery cell production and research in Germany. In return, Tesla could become part of one of the consortia that the Ministry of Economics wants to support.
The report in the German Handelsblatt claims to have learned about the application from government circles. However, the Federal Ministry of Economics does not want to confirm the case officially. The newspaper was told that “no names of companies that have applied for corresponding funds” could be named. In general, however, subsidies could also be granted to non-European companies, said the ministry.
A first European consortium consisting of the PSA group with its German subsidiary Opel and the French battery manufacturer Saft as well as 15 other companies was announced in September 2019, and in December the EU Commission gave the green light for the subsidies. As part of the consortium, a battery cell production facility with a capacity of 32 GWh is to be built in Kaiserslautern, with a matching factory planned in France.
A second consortium is still not underway, even though the Ministry of Economics claims it is working on it. Tesla could also participate in such a consortium. If a project serves European interests (‘Important Projects of Common European Interest’, IPCEI for short), non-European companies can also receive funding within this framework. According to the Ministry, these companies must also meet the same requirements for “innovation and research” in Europe as European companies.
It is unclear whether and how Tesla would participate in such a consortium and even want to share know-how with other companies. It is also unclear whether, given the political situation (recently, US President Trump threatened European car manufacturers with higher import duties), the government wants to approve funding for a US company.
But Tesla also faces some resistance on the ground, for example, the concerns of residents about the drinking water supply. Even Tesla boss Elon Musk intervened on the weekend to dispel the dispute. The 372 cubic meters of water per hour requested is no daily water withdrawal, but “possibly a rare case of peak usage”. Regarding the clearing of the trees on the site, Musk wrote on Twitter that it was not a natural forest. “It was planted for cardboard production, and only a small part of the area is used for GF4,” Musk says.
Sounds like we need to clear up a few things! Tesla won’t use this much net water on a daily basis. It’s possibly a rare peak usage case, but not an everyday event. Also, this is not a natural forest — it was planted for use as cardboard & only a small part will be used for GF4.
— Sphere-Earthers Rūl (@elonmusk) January 25, 2020
Regardless of Musk’s statements, opponents and supporters of the planned Gigafactory 4 in the municipality of Grünheide had gathered again last weekend. Unlike the previous weekend, however, the supporters were more numerous than the opponents this time. Also, the organisers no longer want to demonstrate against the Tesla factory, as it was found that right-wing nationalists had infiltrated the movement.
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