Tesla expansion near Berlin – warning of drinking water shortages

Released on 16.10. 2021

  • “The discussion we are having with the country is completely inconclusive”: André Bähler, head of the water association Strausberg-Erkner. Photo: Patrick Pleul

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The water consumption for the region around the Tesla factory in Brandenburg is contractually secured for the start of the electric car manufacturer. But there could be a problem if Tesla expands the factory.

Strausberg (dpa) – In the opinion of the responsible water association, the drinking water supply in the region is not yet secured with a further expansion of the factory of US electric car manufacturer Tesla in Grünheide near Berlin.

) “How you want to meet the needs is completely open,” said the head of the Strausberg-Erkner (WSE) water association, André Bähler, the German press agency. He also referred to the settlement of other companies such as suppliers and new apartments for employees. Nobody knows where the water should come from for the additional needs. A contract is already in place for the development of water for the first expansion stage of the factory in Grünheide.

The Brandenburg Ministry of the Environment has not yet seen any need for action. “We have not yet received any plans or applications for further expansion stages,” said spokeswoman Frauke Zelt. She also referred to a working group on water perspectives for the eastern Berlin area. The ministry is also having other water resources explored, for example in the Hangelsberg area.

Tesla boss Elon Musk said at an open day in Grünheide on October 9th that he wanted to go there start production of electric cars by December at the latest. However, the schedule is still open because the final approval is missing. After an online discussion of objections to the factory, the responsible authorities in Brandenburg are investigating whether there is a need for further testing. Critics fear problems with drinking water and negative consequences for the environment. Tesla had rejected the criticism. The company also wants to mass-produce its own batteries there.

Tesla goes for the car plant at full capacity of 500 000 vehicles have had a water consumption of up to 1.4 million cubic meters per year the end. The company had reduced the value by 16 percent through water-saving measures. Tesla estimates 2.2 cubic meters of water per vehicle, including the planned battery production, and emphasizes that this is below the industry average of more than 3 cubic meters. Earlier plans included a theoretical maximum of 3.6 million cubic meters of water per year for the entire area that Tesla could expand. Part of the factory site is located in the drinking water protection area.

Last year, the WSE association chief warned for the first time that there was not enough drinking water in the event that the factory would be expanded further. The red-black-green Brandenburg state government pointed out at the time that talks were ongoing. According to Bähler, no consultations are currently taking place. “The discussion we are having with the country is completely inconclusive,” he criticized. The Brandenburg Ministry of the Environment, however, stated that the talks continued.

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