Giga Berlin Deforestation Concludes, German Mayor Teases March 19th Groundbreaking

According to a recent interview with the mayor of Grünheide, Germany, Tesla’s Giga Berlin factory could soon begin actual construction. Specifically, this comes as reports are out that the tree-felling efforts at the site are complete.

Clearing efforts at Giga Berlin previously faced headwinds

The Grünheide facility (now known as “Giga Berlin”) will become the Fremont automaker’s first European Gigafactory. The 300-hectare facility is currently in the tree-clearing phase, which is quite an elaborate undertaking. This mainly relates to the fact that the Giga Berlin site is a greenfield development.

Specifically, the forest-clearing phase has run into trouble with German environmental groups. It would seem that these are not aware that the forest at the Grünheide site is not a natural forest. Moreover, they are also raising concerns over the ground water usage of the upcoming plant.

If this was not enough, authorities recently found WW2 era bombs at the site. These could potentially have an adverse environmental impact, but are now entirely gone after defusing efforts. 

Giga Berlin tree-clearing completes ahead of deadline

Although this could sound spectacular, such bomb finds is a relatively common occurrence in Germany. Moreover, there have been concerns over a special type of endangered bats that live in the area. 

These hibernating bats, along with nesting birds, were creating a deadline for Tesla at the Giga Berlin site. If Tesla wasn’t able to clear the forest before mid-March, the project would risk a roughly 9-month delay as not to disturb the animals’ home.

Now, however, reports are out that the Giga Berlin tree-clearing is complete. The following video shows the final efforts clearing the site. This means that Tesla is on track towards soon beginning construction of the actual facility. 

Giga Berlin groundbreaking ceremony on March 19th?

Giga Berlin will undoubtedly have big shoes to fill. The Gigafactory is the first to be built following the impressive build-out of Giga Shanghai. Although observers note that the German factory will take longer to construct than Giga Shanghai, it is nonetheless progressing rapidly.

Giga Shanghai Groundbreaking
Giga Shanghai Groundbreaking Ceremony

Moreover, the mayor of the region recently gave some interesting insight regarding the project. Speaking with the German news outlet TeslaMag, the mayor of Grünheide – Arne Christiani – says groundbreaking could occur in March. This would likely be a formal ceremony, much like the Giga Shanghai groundbreaking.

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According to Christiani, the earliest possible date for the groundbreaking ceremony would be March 19th. The reason for this is that a mandatory discussion on objections by citizens against the project will take place on March 18th.

Tesla’s European Gigafactory will produce 500,000 vehicles per year

The deadline for citizens to raise objections against the project is on March 5th. “It could be that the groundbreaking ceremony will take place at the end of March,” Christiani said, referring to possible objections that may come in the way.

However, Christiani was ultimately bullish on the whole project, which will employ roughly 12,000 people during its Phase 1. Although he said Tesla has not gotten any “special treatment” in the approval process, “all relevant bodies” have reportedly given positive forecasts for it.

Christiani also shot down the complaint that Giga Berlin will use an excessive amount of groundwater. “There will be enough water,” Christiani said.

Tesla’s Giga Berlin will reportedly become operational in July of 2021. The facility will begin ramping production of the Model Y with a target capacity of 10,000 vehicles per week. For comparison, Tesla Model Y delivery is now just about to begin in the US. Giga Berlin’s capacity will eventually reach 500,000 vehicles per year.

TSLA Times’ Take:

First of all, the fuss about Giga Berlin’s forest-clearing is basically much ado about nothing. Tesla has said that the company will plant three times as many trees as it is cutting down. Moreover, the forest in question is not a natural forest.

Rather, the forest at the site is a cardboard forest. This means that the woods in the relevant area were always meant to be an element in industrial production. The clearing work involves clearing roughly 92 hectares of this cardboard forest east of Berlin, in the federal Brandenburg state.

Following Tesla’s deforestation, the company will not only grow a three-times bigger forest, but also a more diverse one. 

Moreover, Musk has said that Giga Berlin will not use the massive amounts of energy spoken about. Rather, he highlights that Giga Berlin’s official water usage number reflects a “rare peak usage case”.

What’s particularly interesting about Giga Berlin is that the site will manufacture batteries, battery packs, power trains and more components. Tesla will likely ramp production of its own, upcoming “Project Roadrunner” batteries, which TSLA Times recently reported on. Observers should not underestimate the synergies from proprietary battery production right at the site.

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