Tesla factories are setting a new standard of water use per vehicle—using less water than almost any ICE carmaker—which demonstrates the company’s commitment to sustainable manufacturing. Tesla optimizes its work at every stage to achieve impressive water savings.
While the so-called “environmental organizations” in Germany continue to fight Tesla, falsely claiming that Giga Berlin threatens the water supply of the entire region, the American manufacturer demonstrates through action that it has achieved high success in saving water. Tesla factories have set a new standard for water use for every vehicle they make, demonstrating their commitment to sustainable manufacturing, according to its 2021 Impact Report.
As the climate changes, water becomes scarce. Therefore, Tesla minimizes water consumption at all stages of its activities. The manufacturer prioritized direct use in manufacturing, and will continue to explore the rest of its impact throughout the supply chain and in sales, service, and delivery. The company demonstrated how water can be saved while planning the construction of Giga Berlin. There, Tesla uses 2.2 cubic meters for the production of each car, including the production of batteries. This is below the industry average by more than 3 cubic meters, which is a truly impressive achievement that underlines Tesla's commitment to protecting the environment.
According to the company's explanation in the report, the “cooling tower makeup” is the single biggest contributor to water usage in any car factory after paint operations. Since the water that cools the equipment evaporates, it must be topped up regularly. The overall composition of the cooling tower can be fully compensated for by non-potable sources such as rainwater or sewage. Tesla described some of the initiatives it is taking at Giga Berlin and Giga Texas to reduce water consumption for the production of the entire vehicle, including battery cells.
1. Water intensive process optimization
The manufacturer said that it is constantly looking into reducing water consumption by optimizing or eliminating water intensive production processes across its operations. At Giga Berlin, Tesla uses hybrid cooling towers, has eliminated quench tanks in casting, and introduced cascade rinsing systems in the paint shop and battery can wash process for cell manufacturing.
2. Rainwater and condensate harvesting and reuse
The company plans to capture at least 25% of runoff from rooftops at Giga Texas, which equals 1 million square feet. The water will be placed in a central underground storage system there. The rainwater will then be reused to cool the production equipment. According to estimates, on average per year, such systems should save about 7.5 million gallons of potable city water. Additionally, as hot, humid outdoor air is conditioned, water condenses out of the air. Normally, this condensate is discharged as wastewater, but at Giga Texas, Tesla reuses this condensate in its cooling towers and processes water systems to make up for incoming water to the facility.
3. Reclaimed and recycled water (wastewater reuse)
The manufacturer believes that using local treated wastewater could result in offsetting the entire annual cooling tower makeup water demand with non-drinkable uses. Tesla said that at Giga Texas, this could result in annual savings of about a whopping 40 million gallons of potable city water. Reclaimed water is available and is being researched for use at both Giga Texas and Giga Berlin, resulting in even greater savings.
According to the latest publicly available figures, Tesla withdrew less water at facilities dedicated to vehicle manufacturing per vehicle produced than the majority of established carmakers. Furthermore, the efficient manufacturing design the company is implementing at its new factories in Texas and Berlin will result in further reductions in our water usage per vehicle. Tesla's goal is to have industry-leading low water usage per vehicle, even when accounting for cell manufacturing. The below chart includes its latest estimates for water usage per vehicle at those facilities.
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About the Author
Eva Fox joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover breaking news as an automotive journalist. The main topics that she covers are clean energy and electric vehicles. As a journalist, Eva is specialized in Tesla and topics related to the work and development of the company.