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Musk’s warming up to gas evident once more at Texas Gigafactory

Sergio Chapa

The latest sign that Elon Musk is warming up to natural gas came in the form of four tanker trucks at Tesla Inc.’s electric-car gigafactory construction site in Austin, Texas.

The trucks belonging to Houston-based liquefied natural gas company Stabilis Energy could be seen parked outside the plant, aerial images released over the weekend on YouTube show. Together, the 18 wheelers have the capacity to carry enough of the fossil fuel to power 32,000 U.S. homes for a day.

The billionaire founder of Tesla, who has long derided the fossil fuel industry and touted renewable energy as key to averting climate disaster, is increasingly relying on gas for his projects. That had already become evident at the SpaceX lauch site, also in Texas.

In January, the first sign that gas would also be used in the Austin plant, which will make the Cybertruck and other electric vehicles, was the sighting of a massive die-casting machine known as a Giga Press. Built by Italy’s Idra Group, the equipment uses gas to melt aluminum and other metals to make vehicle parts.

Tesla didn’t respond to requests for comment, and Stabilis declined to comment.

Stabilis owns and operates a plant in the Eagle Ford Shale town of George West, where locally sourced gas is processed into LNG that can be loaded into cryogenic tanker trucks and hauled hundreds of miles to construction sites on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border.

Also, a gas transmission pipeline owned by Dallas-based Atmos Energy runs through the Tesla Gigafactory’s roughly 1,600-acre property.

Atmos also declined to comment, but a connection to to the pipeline network, which runs more than 150 miles from the Haynesville Shale of East Texas to Austin, would be able to supply the plant with a permanent source.

It’s not clear how much gas the plant will require once complete.