Tesla has received a conditional license to start production at its electric vehicle plant and adjacent battery plant in Gruenheide, Germany, ending months of delay for the reference location, which was originally scheduled to open last summer.
The plant is scheduled to produce more than 500,000 battery-powered electric vehicles a year, while the battery plant will generate more than 50 gigawatt hours (GWh) a year – surpassing European competitors on both fronts.
Brandenburg authorities announced the decision at a press conference in Potsdam.
“This authorization process has been a huge task for us,” Brandenburg Prime Minister Dietmar Woidke told reporters. “This is a new chapter in our industrial development.”
The decision includes many conditions that Tesla must meet in terms of using water and air pollution control, two areas of major concern for local environmental groups who fear the plant will have a negative impact.
Tesla needs to obtain another operating license in order to start production, a process that is expected to take about two weeks.
The car manufacturer must comply with the requirements listed in the permit, including the installation of emission monitoring equipment and the implementation of measures to protect groundwater reserves and prevent accidents.
Tesla has built the plant, which is close to Berlin, with prior permits
The factory will build Model Y cars. Medium-sized SUVs are currently being imported into Europe from the Tesla plant in Shanghai.
The long-awaited approval is an advantage for Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who intends to compete with Volkswagen, BMW and Mercedes-Benz in their field, while expanding their own electric vehicle offerings.
Fabricade in one of the most competitive car markets in the world is designed to eventually produce batteries and up to 500,000 cars a year.
Musk warned that the development of the factory will be difficult, in part because it will use a lot of new technologies.
The CEO told locals in October that Tesla aims to produce between 5,000 and 10,000 vehicles a week by the end of this year. Tesla has hired about 2,500 of its 12,000 construction workers.
Environmental groups have sued local authorities over fears that the plant would use too much water in a region suffering from advanced droughts due to climate change.
Officials say the vast majority of the local population is in favor of the factory, and Brandenburg authorities support efforts to drill for more water.
“We are aware of the water shortage,” Brandenburg Environment Minister Axel Vogel told reporters. “The state is doing what it can.”