German Court Rejects Bid to Block Gigafactory Permits

A German court has tossed a previously filed complaint brought by two environmentalist groups aiming to block provisional permits that the state of Brandenburg issued to Tesla for the construction of Gigafactory Berlin. The permits allow for time-sensitive testing of equipment at the Gigafactory. A lawyer representing the environmentalist groups claimed that they were only seeking “clarification” of the permits.

The legal fight continues Tesla’s ongoing wrangling with German-based environmentalists both inside and outside the courtroom. Environmentalists had previously won a partial legal victory in a case that they had brought alleging that Tesla had not done enough to protect endangered species near the construction site. An extremist environmentalist group is a suspect in a case of arson that damaged power lines leading to Gigafactory Berlin.

Environmentalists have criticized Tesla’s electric vehicles for not being as “green” as advertised because some of the electricity that they run on is produced using fossil fuels. Tesla’s second biggest market, China, still produces most of its electricity using coal, for instance.

Tesla has expressed a desire to use the solar power side of its business to charge its electric vehicles, though. It has recently opened a solar powered charging station with on-site electricity storage capacity in China. This may be a test run for similar stations throughout China and possibly the world that could address complaints about its vehicles simply replacing gasoline and diesel with coal. The company is also providing Superchargers for a solar powered charging station being operated by Fastned in Germany.

Elon Musk has also announced a more efficient battery-making process that uses less water and fewer moving parts at last year’s “Battery Day” event. Tesla’s push to make more vehicle parts in-house, which gives it better control over the process, was a major factor in two of its models making the Top 3 in’s American-Made Index. This also makes it possible for Tesla to make certain that the manufacturing process follows more environmentally friendly procedures, as opposed to using third-party manufacturers for parts.

Tesla is also ramping up efforts to source raw materials from countries with strong environmental regulations. It expects to source $1 billion in metals from Australian mining firms this year and has also held talks with Canadian mining firms that use “zero-waste” mining processes to extract nickel.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that Tesla hasn’t had trouble with environmental regulators. The United States and Germany both recently accused Tesla of violating environmental standards. Tesla pushed back at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s allegation that the paint shop at the Fremont, California, factory does not meet emissions standards. Germany fined Tesla for not meeting bureaucratic requirements related to the return of car batteries that have outlived their usefulness.

Tesla has not released a statement related to its victory in the latest round in what appears to be a growing feud with German environmentalists. Neither has Elon Musk published a tweet about it, either good or bad, though he may simply be playing it cautious considering that previous Tesla-related tweets have caused trouble with the SEC and stockholders before.