Tesla representatives attended a community meeting in Nueces County about its proposed lithium refining facility for battery production.
The Nueces County Commissioners Court held a public meeting recently to discuss Tesla’s potential tax abatement agreement with the county. The Nueces County community has voiced environmental concerns about Tesla’s lithium refining facility, particularly concerning its water supply. Tesla Giga Berlin also sparked water supply concerns from nearby communities in Grunheide.
Water Supply Concerns
Tesla representatives present at the public meeting emphasized that the proposed lithium refining facility in Nueces is a step toward sustainable energy. During their presentation, Tesla representatives said that the facility would not produce lithium batteries the conventional way to limit waste production and pollution. Tesla’s lithium battery production process would also use less water.
“How can we make it cleaner, how can we make it less water-intensive, how can we use less acid, use less electricity,” said Tesla representative Rohan Patel during the presentation.
Nueces vs. Giga Berlin Water Supply Concerns
Tesla faced similar challenges with Giga Berlin’s water supply and consumption. The company managed to refine its production process at Giga Berlin and ended up needing less water than its permits stated by the time the factory in Germany started assembling vehicles.
Initially, Tesla’s applications estimated that Giga Berlin would consume 1.423 million cubic meters of water annually for just Model Y production. However, by June 2021, Tesla updated its annual water consumption estimates, stating that 1.423 million cubic meters would be enough for both Model Y production and Giga Berlin’s battery cell factory.
The facility Tesla plans to build in Nueces County will handle battery-grade lithium hydroxide refining processes for battery production in North America. It will also conduct battery materials processing, refining, and manufacturing, along with ancillary manufacturing operations. As such, it will probably consume less water than a full-blown Tesla gigafactory.
“For this facility, the needs are fairly small, compared to an industrial facility, many industrial facilities that exist here, so what we’ve been told from the water authority, now I don’t have the facts and figures of what exactly is needed, but we’re happy to get that to you,” said Patel.