Because of the increased demand for water in the Berlin area, also through the planned settlement of the US electric car manufacturer Tesla in Grünheide, the Brandenburg Ministry of the Environment wants to make adjustments. A spokeswoman said on Saturday that an unused groundwater supply in the Hangelsberg area should be explored and tapped to increase funding capacities for the supply of the Freienbrink industrial park – including Tesla. The “leap” in fresh water requirements and the amount of wastewater produced by the Tesla plant in the first stage of expansion meant that “almost all reserve capacities” were used up. Before that Handelsblatt reported.
3.6 million cubic meters of water per year
Tesla estimates a maximum water consumption of 1.4 million cubic meters per year for the plant – at full capacity of 500,000 vehicles. The value was reduced by 30 percent through water-saving measures. This is the estimated maximum requirement under the most unfavorable conditions, in regular operation the consumption should be significantly lower. For the entire area that Tesla could expand over time, the company set a theoretical maximum of 3.6 million cubic meters of water per year. The automaker plans to start production in July.
The environmental approval for the project by the state of Brandenburg is still pending. Tesla is already building with preliminary permits for individual construction steps. Environmentalists and local residents are warning that the supply of drinking water will be damaged and that a nearby nature reserve will be affected by the factory.
New waterworks and construction of an industrial sewage treatment plant
According to the ministry, the responsible water association Strausberg Erkner (WSE) has already signed a supply contract with Tesla for the water supply of the first expansion stage. There are also possible solutions for the supply of future expansion stages with water. The water supplier is supported financially by the state. Among other things, the commissioning of a new waterworks should secure the future supply. There are also plans to build an industrial sewage treatment plant that is suitable for treating wastewater in the entire Freienbrink industrial estate.
The head of the Energy, Transport, Environment department at the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW), Claudia Kemfert, was also optimistic that possible problems with the water supply for the planned Tesla factory can be solved. The Handelsblatt she said the state government was called upon to do everything possible to avoid this. The economist pointed out that Brandenburg was particularly affected by water scarcity due to climate change. This is caused in particular by the combustion of fossil fuels, including and especially petrol and diesel vehicles. Electromobility is a solution to the urgently needed reduction in greenhouse gases.
Water supply is quite “limited”
The scientist Volker Preuss at the Chair of Water Technology and Sanitary Engineering at the Brandenburg University of Technology Cottbus-Senftenberg (BTU) had pointed out that Tesla’s water requirement was “limited”. Existing interests in use and the available water would have to be balanced. “You can’t push that up at will, there can still be so many jobs under discussion,” he told the dpa. In order for the overall system to work, the water supply and disposal situation must also be considered.
The Ministry of the Environment pointed out that Tesla could not yet provide any reliable benchmarks for the next stages of expansion of the car factory or the battery production that was being discussed. That prevents the Strausberg Erkner Water Association (WSE) from further planning. In order for further expansion stages to be approved, even stricter requirements for water-saving manufacturing techniques are required.