It is all in the water when it should be in the bag. The trouble surrounding permissions to build the Tesla Gigafactory in Germany continues, local media reports. The company charged with covering the water requirements for Giga Berlin has stopped planning.
Regional broadcaster RBB reports this online, citing an internal letter from the Strauss-Erkner (WSE) water association. At the heart of the problem are unsigned contracts and future estimations.
But to the beginning: German authorities in Brandenburg had greenlighted Tesla to lay the foundations for the planned plant in Grünheide just a week ago – and despite the full environmental permit still pending. The Californians have been struggling with the permits since months, after environmental group’s objected the plans, forcing Tesla to redraft the planning permission. One concern was the factory’s water consumption, and Tesla reduced the planned water consumption in the application documents.
This reduction, however, is what concerns the WSE. The association itself relies on permits from the state of Brandenburg, which are currently sufficient to cover the water requirements for the Gigafactory announced by Tesla as well as the region. However, the WSE expects the plant to attract new people and companies to the area, so that by the end of 2022 at the latest, more water would be needed than the total 15 million cubic meters permitted today. So the struggle is with the state as WSE wants the permission to pump more water, RBB quotes 3 million additional cubic meters.
Complicating matters is a more specific problem that doesn’t sit well with the Germans. Tesla has had a draft contract for the Gigafactory water since May but has not signed it, according to the internal letter from WSE. A spokeswoman for the association told RBB, they believe Tesla would want to expand the factory later and thus not commit to any water needs beforehand. The current contract reserves no more than 1.5 million cubic metres of water for Giga Berlin. In any case, the association insists on getting the signature to have legal certainty in this first phase and has suspended planning. The WSE also said that it is no longer sure that the factory will have a water supply at all comes November 2020. The whole project would “fundamentally endangered”.
It is unclear whether WSE means to put pressure on Tesla or the state. At least the latter is not impressed. Hendryk Pilz, mayor of Erkner and WSE chairman, told RBB, he does not consider the project endangered. “We are not the water board that is acting against Tesla, we are the ones who definitely want Tesla in our region,” said Pilz. However, he added that he’d like to see Tesla move as fast in the water supply and disposal sector as in other areas.
Also Grünheide’s mayor Arne Christiani is thinking about another solution: Grünheide is partly supplied by WSE, but also partly by the Fürstenwalde water board. Should the problem with WSE remain, Christiani suggests to disconnect the district from the WSE network and instead move the entire supply to the Fürstenwalde Water Purpose Association.
More support came from two Brandenburg state ministers who commented on the new water warnings. So far, all problems could have been solved in talks and had not endangered the Tesla project, said Economics Minister Jörg Steinbach, according to another RBB report. Environment Minister Axel Vogel agreed with this assessment.
Given that Giga Berlin is going ahead, the Model Y will roll-off the production lines in Grünheide to reach customers in Europe. Meanwhile, in the USA, Tesla offers the Model Y in leasing from 499 dollars a month. Tesla has thus opened the Model Y lease much earlier than was the case with the Model 3, for which leasing was not introduced in the USA until August 2019 – around two years after the first deliveries. In the case of Model Y, this took Tesla only a few months.