Germany: Tesla to begin factory expansion process in July
Tesla is not only planning to double its production capacity for electric cars as part of the expansion of its factory in Germany, but also for batteries. Thus, public participation in the approval process for the expansion of the Tesla factory in Grünheide will be initiated from 19 July 2023.
This is according to a statement by the Brandenburg Ministry of the Environment. In March 2023, Tesla submitted the first application for the expansion of its plant in Grünheide. It was previously known that Tesla was applying for an expansion of its production capacity from the current 500,000 units to one million electric cars per year in the future. As the ministry has now announced, the expansion will also be accompanied by “an increase in battery storage production capacity from currently 50 to 100 gigawatt-hours per year in the future”.
Tesla had postponed its plans for series production of battery cells in Grünheide in order to prioritise the USA for the time being due to the prospect of extensive subsidies. The new information confirms that Tesla is still committed to battery production in Germany. What exactly is meant by “battery storage production capacity”, however, is not specified by the ministry in its announcement. This could include the long-awaited battery cell production, but also (for now) only an assembly of battery packs. This will of course also be necessary later, but can initially be operated with delivered cells. Because it is clear that an “increase from the current 50 GWh” cannot mean cell production, as Tesla does not build battery cells on this scale in Grünheide. Moreover, the time horizon for doubling the “battery storage production capacity” is not mentioned.
For the doubling of vehicle production, “another large hall is to be built to accommodate the additional production units”. In addition, changes and optimisations to the already constructed production facilities are also planned, according to the Ministry of the Environment of the State of Brandenburg.
Tesla changes approach
Tesla also appears to be changing its approach to permitting. For the construction of the first phase, the manufacturer had famously worked with countless preliminary permits (with the risk of dismantling at its own expense), even before the comprehensive overall permit was available. Now, according to the state Ministry for the Environment, Tesla plans to “apply for the project in several partial approval steps”.
The application is officially a modification of approved production facilities, which were approved by the decision of 04.03.2022. The project is planned entirely within the area of the existing B-Plan. There is no connection between this project and B-Plan No. 60 “Service and Logistics Centre Freienbrink-Nord”, which is currently being drawn up.
Part of the requested change is also a further development of the much-criticised waste water treatment. “This means that in future the waste water from production will be treated by additional recycling and treatment in such a way that no more industrial waste water will be fed to the sewage treatment plant. This is intended to save required production water,” the ministry writes.
The application documents can be viewed on the internet and at some authorities from 19 July to 18 August 2023. During the period from 19 July to 18 September 2023 inclusive, objections to the project can be submitted in writing or electronically to the above-mentioned authorities. If there are any objections (which is to be assumed given the history of the plant), a hearing will again be held. According to the notification, this should take place in the Erkner town hall from 23 October this year.