Pol­i­tics, power sup­plies don’t mix

The Washington Times Daily - - EDITORIAL -

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

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