20 Jul 2020, 14:00
Benjamin Wehrmann

Worries about water needs of Tesla's Berlin factory not ebbing away


US carmaker Tesla’s planned gigafactory near Berlin continues to cause worries about the production site's water consumption, public broadcaster rbb24 reports. The local water supplier in the municipality of Grünheide has put the factory’s connection on hold because Tesla has so far failed to sign a document that will set its annual water use at 1.5 million cubic metres, about 10 percent of the municipality’s total use. The water supplier suspects that Tesla, which plans to build both electric cars and car batteries at the site, is hesitating to sign the document due to possible plans to expand the factory in the near future, leading the local utility to put all proceedings on hold.

According to the water supplier, the licensing lag could turn out to "generally threaten" Tesla's schedule, arguing that the federal state of Brandenburg, where Grünheide is located, has to increase the annually allowed amount of water withdrawal to guarantee both a secure supply for the gigafactory as well as for the expected new private and commercial residents that are likely to follow Tesla in the coming years. "We definitely want to have Tesla in our region," said Hendryk Pilz, head of the water supplier association and mayor of a nearby municipality. But he expressed concern that the carmaker seemed to be less active in getting its water supply and disposal in order as it is in other areas.

The US company plans to build up to 500,000 vehicles per year in the factory near Germany's capital. Company CEO Elon Musk personally sought to allay concerns over the factory's water needs, which is one of several aspects critics of the project lament, particularly as two very dry and hot summers in 2018 and 2019 greatly increased awareness of the need for better water management in the country. Tesla plans to open the factory that will become its European mainstay and which has been hailed as a potential gamechanger for the German e-car industry in 2021.

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