Tesla Gigafactory Berlin: The facility’s story so far

Credit: @gigafactory_4/Twitter

Tesla Gigafactory Berlin is about to receive its final environmental approval, with Brandenburg Minister-President Dietmar Woidke holding a press conference later today to discuss the milestone. It took a long time to get to this point, but after two years, it appears that Tesla’s Model Y factory in Germany is finally about to wake up. 

Information shared with Teslarati indicates that the press conference later will be attended not only by Brandenburg Minister-President Dietmar Woidke. Other key personalities in Giga Berlin’s development such as Environment Minister Axel Vogel and Economics Minister Jörg Steinbach (SPD) will also be present at the event. 

Ulrich Stock, the department head responsible in the State Office for the Environment, Sascha Gehm, the First Deputy of the Oder-Spree district, and Arne Christiani, the Mayor of Grünheide, are also expected to be present at the press conference. 

A quick refresher of what’s been happening in Giga Berlin can be found below. 

Another permit after the final environmental approval

It should be noted that the final environmental approval is a massive step forward for Gigafactory Berlin. However, the final environmental approval does not mean that vehicle production could immediately start. An operating license is still required before Model Ys can be produced. Tesla must then meet further requirements before Giga Berlin’s Model Y production lines could start operations. 

Teslarati has contacted several local government offices to inquire about the requirements that Tesla needs to submit to secure Giga Berlin’s operational license for vehicle production. Local government offices have so far declined to provide additional information, at least for now. 

An ongoing water dispute

Giga Berlin has a lot of critics, and it has faced opposition over the years. Among the most notable talking points against Giga Berlin as of late is its water supply. Conservationists and local resident groups have expressed their fear that Giga Berlin will put the local water supply at risk. Legal action has been taken about the issue. Local water association Strausberg-Erkner (WSE) believes that Tesla’s water supply for Giga Berlin could still be terminated, but such a development may result in Tesla taking legal action. 

Tesla is set to receive a supply of 1.4 million cubic liters of drinking water every year, though this may increase as Gigafactory Berlin expands its operations. It should be noted that a nearby coal mine and an oil refinery in the area are consuming far more water annually than Tesla. CEO Elon Musk has also said that Tesla will “recycle as much as humanly possible,” adding that he’s “pretty confident that (Giga Berlin) will be the most environmentally friendly factory in the world.”

A summary of delays

Gigafactory Berlin started its construction about two years ago, and initially, the facility seemed to be progressing at around the same pace as its sibling, Gigafactory Shanghai. Tesla also planned to start vehicle production in summer 2021, a target that was ultimately not met. This was partly due to several delays, which included a time when construction had to be paused due to hibernating snakes in the area. Tesla also faced much opposition from environmentalist groups who opposed the tree-cutting on the site. The EV maker responded by planting more trees than it had cut. 

Even Tesla itself became a source of delays for the launch of Giga Berlin. Tesla moves at a very quick pace, and it updates its plans for its facilities accordingly. In Giga Berlin’s case, the company decided to add the construction and operation of a battery factory. This resulted in Giga Berlin’s applications requiring updates, causing further delays. Thankfully, most of Giga Berlin’s delays seem to have been dealt with for now, and the facility is in its final stages before it could start its operations. 

Future plans

Tesla’s Gigafactories are ever-developing, and the same is true for Giga Berlin. As per information shared with German news agency rbb24, new applications for further expansion are expected to be submitted soon. Battery recycling facilities are also reportedly planned for the site, and so is a production line for Powerwall batteries, which may be equipped with cells that are produced in the Giga Berlin complex. Teslarati has attempted to confirm these reports, but local office representatives have declined to comment on the matter. 

Giga Berlin’s press conference for the facility’s final environmental approval is expected to start at 3:30 p.m. CET (6:30 a.m. PST). 

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Tesla Gigafactory Berlin: The facility’s story so far
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