The Problem With Renewable Energy The Bizarre Plan to Drain the Mediterranean: 3 months ago   04:06

Tom Scott
( This isn't a sponsored video, but I am massively grateful to all the team at SSE! Go look: , and pull down the description for more. )
As the world switches to renewable energy - and we are switching - there's a problem you might not expect: balancing the grid. Rotational mass and system inertia are the things that keep your lights from flickering: and they only appear in big, old, traditional power stations. Here's why that's a problem, and how we're likely going to fix it.

Thanks to all the team at SSE! FULL DISCLOSURE: This is not a sponsored video, no money has changed hands, and SSE did not have editorial control. But they did go out of their way to arrange access and support for me and my team, including giving us safety training for working at heights. I am incredibly grateful to all the team: Paul and Ed for arranging it all; Bob and Scott who helped us at the turbine; and Calum, Head of Operations, who was keeping an eye on safety throughout.


The drone footage is from Cyberhawk, they normally do turbine inspections and land surveying, so I'd like to thank them for getting some artistic shots for us too!

And finally, my camera operator was Paul Curry, @cr3, who's written a more experiential post with photos for Buzzfeed:

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Comments 1806 Comments

Russ Gallagher
"Your car could sell power back to the grid..." Conveniently ignores the fact that batteries deteriorate with every discharge and charge cycle; probably not the most economical use of a battery that costs thousands of dollars or pounds!
Russ Gallagher
2:23 Title of vid says "Problem w/ Renewable Energy [and how we're fixing it]..." Overhead shots show wind farm crankin' out a whopping ZERO watts on a windless day!
never going to happen
Buy cheap overflow electricity to your own cars & sell it back later automatically at higher demands. Interesting idea.
Neurotic Sos
Throw another nuclear rod on the barbie
yea but like if one wind turbine fails then the others are still spinning so liek
edit: w a i t t h e m a i n l i n e c o u l d
f a i l
pretend i didn’t say anything
ProfWildcard “Hundreds of tons of steel rotating THOUSANDS of times a SECOND” try again
Runklestiltskin _
Domiciliary grid aren't even capable of that. That would require an entire redesign of the electric system of cities and homes.
I love this sort of stuff.
Toopy Anne Binoo
No no no ... The grid stays at frequency ... The grid is billions of hp ... one wee 20 Mw generator decides to buck the system .... Lmfao ... Ain't gonna happen ... That generator just became a motor ... let's hope it stays together while the frequency relay does its job ya ? And no Nuclear won't pick up .... You got one thing correct ..... Hydro .....
I really wish the United States would go more Renewable
Daniel Rule
The thing I love about this series and really all educational youtube channels is that even though this was posted 2 years ago it still has educational worth to anyone who watches it today. Sure science has improved since then and there are new things to talk about but this has more lasting worth than most other styles of video.
Makes me appreciate nuclear all the more. Small relative footprint, abundant fuel, clean, waste issues are very manageable (engineeering-wise, political will notwithstanding), and best of all, it runs when the sun doesn't shine and the wind doesn't blow.
Anish Murthy
Watching this 2 years down the line, wondering why Tesla made a super massive battery instead of doing this even though Tesla literally sells electric cars and can do this instead.
Oversat til dansk - de skal bare bekræftes
Mad Haze
"meters that can watch the grid and work out when to turn on your air conditioning and fridges" ? So we will be dictated to when we can use our appliances . Another created crisis coming I see. Educate your self with some Antony Sutton books. This is pure propaganda sugar coating .
J Gates
Elon musk fixed this :)
Nah, big batteries work too.
Cant you just use wind power to rotate a giant mass of steel?
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The Bizarre Plan to Drain the Mediterranean: The Problem With Renewable Energy 3 months ago   03:29

Herman Sörgel wanted to create the largest civil engineering project the world has ever seen: a colossal dam across the Strait of Gibraltar, lowering the Mediterranean sea. There were, of course, a few problems with this.

VFX by David 'Hoolopee' Post (
Camera by Paul Curry (@cr3)

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