Tesla Berlin Super Factory, Another Delay

After 28 long months of construction that exceeded expectations due to numerous delays caused by logging, water, animal protection and bombs, Tesla's Berlin megafactory finally received a conditional permit from the state of Brandenburg on March 4 and is expected to deliver vehicles to customers later this month. However, on March 18, the Brandenburg water company claimed that the remaining local water reserves had been completely depleted and that Tesla would start production of the Model Y electric car several months late. It seems that the start of production of Tesla's fourth global super factory will be delayed again.

The German government welcomes the opening of the new factory with great enthusiasm

In November 2019, Tesla boss Musk announced that after Nevada, New York and Shanghai, he would invest 5 billion euros to open a fourth mega-factory in Greenhead, outside Berlin, with plans to start production by July 1, 2021.

Elon Musk

On November 12, 2021, Musk announced his intention to build the Berlin Super Factory while attending the Golden Steering Wheel Award ceremony in Berlin.

 Musk noted that the plant "will produce batteries, drivetrains and cars, starting with the Model Y model. He praised German engineering, saying that its "extraordinary" performance was "one of the reasons why we chose Germany as the location for our mega European plant".

Germany's then Chancellor Angela Merkel said that month that she would invest 3.5 billion euros in expanding public charging stations and planned to increase subsidies for electric car purchases starting in 2021. The governor of Brandenburg, Dietmar Wojdek, said the local government "spent a long time lobbying" for Tesla to locate in the city. Berlin has provided special financial support for the production of electric car battery packs. German media reported that Tesla will create about 7,000 jobs, design, software, research and development and other related fields will also be driven.

Animal protection organizations hit the ground running Protecting bats is important

In January 2020, Tesla signed a land contract with the state of Brandenburg to buy 300 hectares of land to cut down the forest on this land to build a factory. The forest was initially used as an economic forest for cardboard, which makes clearing the entire forest area easier than a natural forest, using machines that can clear large areas of land more quickly.

Citizens of Berlin

Protesters protest Tesla's plan to build a super factory in Berlin

 On the 18th of that month, hundreds of Germans protested in a Berlin suburb against the construction of Tesla's Berlin mega-factory. The demonstrators said the construction of the plant would endanger the area's water supply and wildlife.

The German Nature Conservancy said that after the trees were cut down, there would be no place for an endangered bat that roosts in the woods, and that in order to cut down the trees, the bats would need to be relocated first, but Tesla would need special permission to relocate the bats.

Tesla had to ask the environmental authorities to conduct a species survey of the entire forest area, and the results showed that there were only two bats in the entire forest.

Only the richest are allowed to build factories, not residents to water their lawns?

"We're here and we're loud because Tesla is stealing our water." While speaking out for the bats, protesters are also concerned about the safety of their own drinking water.

Environmental groups such as the German Nature Conservancy have filed a lawsuit against the Brandenburg state environmental department. Because the department issued a 30-year permit to Tesla allowing it to draw 1.4 million cubic meters of water per year from an underground aquifer, a consumption equivalent to a city of 40,000 residents.

An internal document from Brandenburg's environment ministry says that the current use of water is "nearing its limits" and that the arrival of manufacturing companies will exacerbate the situation. But state Environment Minister Axel Fogel publicly disagreed, saying: "Nearing the limit does not mean that the limit has been reached. In addition, desertification and climate change can also lead to a reduction in water resources, and if water use has reached its limit, production activities will naturally cease at that time, and Tesla understands this."

Local residents are angry, claiming, "For years we've been told not to water our lawns. Yet, this is when the richest man in the world comes along and gets everything he wants."

In response, Tesla denied that the plant would cause a lack of drinking water. Musk said, "Overall, we are not in a dry, water-scarce area. If there was going to be a real water shortage, there wouldn't be trees."

Leveling the land and cutting down the forest Not even if it has been approved

In February 2020, Tesla received approval from Germany's National Environment Office to cut down 92 hectares of forest, which covers most of the 90 hectares of Phase 1 construction and is also an area that needs to be cleared by March according to the established schedule.

Tain Bach tweeted a picture to celebrateBrandenburg Minister of Economy and Energy Stein Bach tweeted a picture to celebrate the start of Tesla's logging and grading

This is despite the fact that the area has been approved for commercial use and that this economic forest would have been cut down eventually anyway. Local environmental groups such as the Brandenburg Green Alliance are not relenting. On February 16, the High Court of Berlin and Brandenburg ordered Tesla to suspend the logging and construction of the plant on the grounds that, at the rate Tesla is going, it would take only 2-3 days to cut down the trees and thus time must be allowed for the Green Alliance's complaint.

Musk promised to plant three more trees in the future for every tree cut. Environmental groups, on the other hand, claim that the forest is in a nature reserve, that logging and grading would severely damage the local environment, and that the newly planted trees would not capture as much carbon as the existing forest.

On Feb. 20, the court granted Tesla permission to continue cutting down the forest.

The light at the end of the tunnel is the pressure on water supply

In addition to bats, water supply, logging and other difficulties, the Tesla Berlin super factory in the construction, but also encountered the World War II legacy of the U.S. Army bombs, affect the snake hibernation, was ruled to reduce the area occupied by the forest, did not pay the security deposit and other aspects of the construction had to be suspended several times, thus causing delays in production.

Berlin Super Factory

Upper: Musk's imaginary Tesla Germany super factory rendering. Bottom: The state of Tesla's German mega-factory in July 2021, the expected start-up date.

Musk's "start-up by July 1, 2021" has become a failure. He criticized the German authorities' lengthy approval process as being inconsistent with the urgency of the factory project, seriously delaying Tesla's factory construction process.

Finally, on March 4 this year, Brandenburg officials issued a conditional permit to pave the way for Tesla's Berlin mega-factory to go into production.

According to Reuters, Tesla received a 536-page conditional building permit that day, but that doesn't mean it can go into production immediately. Tesla must first prove that it meets many conditions, including water use and air pollution control, before it can obtain an operating permit.

Axel Fogel said Tesla plans to prove it meets the required conditions within two weeks, and the public can raise objections within the next month.

Musk introduces the Tesla Model Y

Musk introduces the Tesla Model Y

Musk wrote in German on social media Twitter, "The future is very exciting!" Tesla then prepared to deliver the Model Y electric car to customers later this month.

However, remember what Fogel said in Tesla's defense? "If water use has reached its limit, it is natural to stop production activities at that time, and Tesla understands that."

On March 18, the Brandenburg State Water Supply Company claimed that thanks to the mediation of the Brandenburg Ministry of Economics and other authorities, it would be possible to supply the first phase of the Tesla Berlin plant with water this year while still providing enough water for the population. However, due to existing land use plans and municipal initiatives, the remaining local water reserves have been completely depleted. As a result, no further development plans are currently possible due to insufficient groundwater extraction. Due to the pressure placed on the local water supply, the Tesla Berlin plant will begin production of the Model Y electric car several months later than planned.

It seems that the ill-fated Tesla's fourth global super factory, production will be delayed again ......

About Author
John Murphy

John Murphy is the founder of TOPCARS Tesla Aftermarket Accessories, as well as an investor in Tesla and owner of the Model Y. He posts about Tesla news while running the site on a daily basis.

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