The June 4, 2021 protest against the Enbridge Line 3 pipeline by a crowd from Society of Fearless Grandmothers in Santa Barbara leaves one puzzled.
Have they not seen what happened when the Colonial Pipeline was hacked? Chaos ensued.
We need these pipelines to support our growing need for power and plastic products. These pipelines are the safest and cleanest ways to transport fuel. There is no other resource.
These amateurs are always trying to redesign the power system without any in-depth knowledge of the complicated process involved. They seem to think renewables are the only way to go.
Renewable power claims are misleading. Wind power is only available when the wind is blowing and solar power is only available when the sun is shining. And wave power is only available when there are waves.
What do we do for power when these things are not there? In the meantime, the power supply must be designed to handle all the power demanded all the time day or night.
Let’s use California power needs as an example. California uses the largest amount of power in the U.S.
Presently, the peak power used in California is 50 billion watt hours. The promise of about 400 million watt hours from wind power or solar is a drop in the bucket in comparison.
In addition, the power needs are growing at about 5 billion-watt hours a year. Wind power and solar power, when operating, are way too puny to even begin to meet these needs.
The nuclear power plant at Diablo safely produces 2 billion watt hours of power every hour of the day, rain or shine, day or night, wind or no wind. That is enough power for 2 million homes or 10% of the state’s power. Twenty-five nuclear plants would provide all the power needed for 50 years, day and night.
In a very small way, solar, wind and conservation can reduce the amount of fossil fuels, but they are in no way a substitute for our power needs, nor a solution in themselves.
They just contribute too little power, and they can have a great impact on the environment. Let’s not forget the enormous amount of power and materials that are needed to manufacture wind turbines and solar power panels.
And these sources are not economically viable without extensive government subsidies. Nuclear also needs power to manufacture uranium from the earth, but the power it produces far exceeds that of the renewable sources.
In any case, the power grid must be designed to meet our peak power needs of 50 billion watt hours. Even if alternate power could meet those power levels, it would be for only half of the time.
For the other half of the time, we would still need fossil or nuclear sources for our power.
Just 20 acres are needed per plant instead of the thousands of acres of land needed for alternative power sources. Nuclear plants can be located near the power users so long-distant power lines are not needed as they are to bring power from remote renewable solar and wind sources.
Nuclear generators can be built in many different sizes and located where needed for the user. The new Virginia Class submarines run for 33 years with one nuclear fueling.
Our present water shortages could be alleviated by reverse osmosis desal plants powered by small nuclear power plants such as are used on Navy submarines or aircraft carriers.
Do we want to become a third world country with power outages half the time? That is what renewables and pipeline shutdowns offer us.
The stark reality of the power situation cannot be overcome by demonstrators with signs.
Justin M. Ruhge
Editor’s note: Justin Rughe is a retired physicist, engineer and nuclear studies engineer.