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Is Alternative Energy Too Risky?

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is dangerous—this is has been accepted as fact. It isn’t necessarily unviable or illegitimate; it is just too young of a technology for the consequences and ramifications to be fully understood.

However, the line may have been crossed recently, upping the ante to somewhere near “expect problems.” In an effort to capture geothermal energy to be used to create clean electricity, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has granted permission to AltaRock Energy to conduct fracking operations on the ground around Oregon’s dormant Newberry Volcano.

If this notion of cracking the ground around a volcano, albeit dormant, with high pressure water seems risky or dangerous, you’re not alone. While geologists aren’t entirely sure if there is a direct link between fracking and earthquakes, the possibility should be enough to deter using this method around a volcano. Although, AltaRock does deserve some credit here: at least they’re thinking outside the box.

Danish company Vestas, known for its dominance in wind turbine manufacturing, has been developing a new platform for future turbines, called the V164 platform. The goal in production has been to offer low-cost energy while leaving the reliability and structural integrity unchanged. At the onset, it was unknown which turbine would be the best, but it was eventually discovered an 8 megawatt (MW) wind turbine would achieve the goal.

Recent technological developments in the prototype V164 have finally allowed for an 8MW turbine to be a part of the platform. Vestas is very excited, obviously, for the progress and adherence to the planned schedule, and has set the test bench to be commissioned for the turbine in January 2013. Assuming all goes well in the tests, the company has installation of the V164 platforms targeted for 2014.

Let’s hope for more wind turbine success, and less potentially explosive situations.

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