The least that can be said is that the project of the American car manufacturer Tesla to build a gigafactory in Grünheide, near Berlin, leaves no one indifferent. Since the construction agreement given in 2020 by the regional authorities to Elon Munsk, the divide between opponents and supporters of the project has become more and more marked.
When some see a deep attack on the environment and the destruction of a peaceful living environment, others see significant economic and financial opportunities.
As soon as the project was announced, environmental movements have organized themselves to block what promises to be one of the biggest industrial construction projects in Germany for decades. They have increased the number of legal remedies pointing out that the “super factory” would destroy 90 hectares of forests and risk drawing a dramatic and dangerous drain on the region's natural resources.
On the other hand, economic players are rubbing their hands. The opportunities in terms of jobs and the financial benefits are equal to the disproportion of the project. Tesla expects annual production of 500,000 electric vehicles, plans to set up the world's largest battery production plant and plans to hire 40,000 people.
However, it looks like things aren't quite going in the direction of what Elon Musk wants. Nothing is going fast enough. And he makes it known. Even if he undertook to start the construction of his factory "at his own risk" with guarantees because still not having received the authorizations, he does not understand the slowness of the German bureaucracy. He recently declared: “ Obstacles in the authorization process slow down industrial transformation ”. And to add: " In Germany , the legislative framework for authorizations of industrial and infrastructure projects is in direct contradiction with the urgency of planning and carrying out these projects " . Not hesitating to take the highest authorities of the country to party, Elon Musk suggests to the German government that his factory contributes to the fight against global warming by reducing the pollution caused by thermal vehicles and by encouraging electric mobility and this fact, goes a long way in helping Germany achieve its climate goals. Why then wait so long?
Even if the German justice rejected certain appeals filed by environmental associations, the horizon does not really brighten for the Californian manufacturer. Indeed, a report broadcast on March 16, on the ZDF television channel, once again highlighted a major problem that has accompanied the project since its inception. That of water. In addition to causing deforestation, the plant will consume very large quantities of water for its operation in a region already experiencing significant water stress. Ironically, this drying up of the region is attributable to global warming against which Elon Musk intends to fight with his cars! André Bäher, director of the municipal water authority, specified that "the consumption of the plant would exceed from 2023 the supply capacities of the municipality".
Of course, the reaction of Elon Musk was not long in coming and wanted to be reassuring by guaranteeing that his plant will not cause any water problems. At the same time, the regional environment ministry acknowledged that Tesla's installation "leads to local reserves reaching their limits and regardless of that we are required to consider long-term water needs. term for other economic activities and the population. " Recall that Tesla announced a maximum annual consumption for its plant of 1.4 million cubic meters of water, which corresponds to the needs of a city of 40,000 inhabitants.
In the end, water is likely to be the thorn in Elon Musk's project. This is all the more sensitive given that, in the short term, an expansion to accommodate the battery manufacturing plant is planned, at the same time generating even greater water consumption.
Elon Musk is already planning to use the surrounding water tables ...