Politics, power supplies don’t mix
So you want to buy that beach house on the ocean that you have been dreaming about for 30 years. You ask about hurricanes and the real-estate agent says not to worry because the last time a hurricane hit the area was 30 years ago. Thus you assume a 1-in-30 chance, a little over three percent, and you think that you can tolerate that. But say you live there for 30 years. The probability that you will be hit once during that period is a whopping 64 percent. The longer you live there, the greater the probability you will be hit. Of course, the realestate agent does not point this out.
Engineers do not design power supplies based on averages, and when stochastic systems such as wind or solar are involved there must be a dependable back-up system in place. This is the way it works in any vehicle with air brakes or any hydraulic system. The pump or compressor cannot always meet the demand, which is unpredictable, so there is an air flask or hydraulic accumulator to meet that demand.
Ever followed a semi down a mountain? The brakes are on by default when the air-tank pressure drops, and you smell the frying brake shoes. Demand has exceeded the back-up air-tank reserve and you are basically toast unless there is an escape ramp. Well, this is what will happen to a national power supply when it is designed by politics and stupidity (“The high cost of unreliable power,” Web, Aug. 7).
The irony about this issue is that it has little to do with the environment. The biggest impact on the environment has been agriculture and it has been going on for 10,000 years. Desertification has not been caused by fracking; it is a direct result of agricultural practices. But instead of addressing this we have the phony renewable-energy/Al Gore clown show.
SAMUEL BURKEEN Reston