The Problem With Renewable Energy The Bizarre Plan to Drain the Mediterranean: 9 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:

I'm at
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Comments 1806 Comments

Tom Scott
There's a minor correction to this video: I say that turbines spin thousands of times "per second" when it should be "per minute". Apologies. You can find all corrections on this channel at
stuart hulse
My local Wind turbine industrial estate has failed to generate any electricity since it was erected but the company involved still collected the subsidies, much to the dismay of the local villagers who have the joy of looking out of their front windows at monsters and they have not been compensated for their loss.
stuart hulse
Well Tom I am glad you believe the tripe that comes out of your mouth. Wind Turbines will not solve the energy problem even with the help of batteries.
J Sev
Bird slaughterers.
Marcus Gault
So, as an electric car owner, who dutifully left it on charge, I will not know if it will be charged, when I next need it, or if instead it was busy boiling the kettle for Mrs Miggings down the Street!
2 years later, South Australia uses a big honkin' Tesla battery for Power Regulation
Adolf Galand
If you strap someone to the end of one of those blades turning how long would they live.
Charlie Tuffier-Mancini
Kim John Un is taking notes.
lets say every house has a smart battery pack and what you power you dont need get stored in there because you can be a sleep and wind pick up and the turbines spin harder but there is not that much demand and that energy can just be stored in your house smart battery and can be pulled from when needed
"thanks so much to SSE getting me up on this wind turbine, I am ever so please help me get down again"
Darren McFeaters
Renewables are not able to make enough power. Thorium reactors are the future. Renewables is a step backwards.
Why don't you take a trip to a roller coaster park and put a few minutes aside for something sciency?
Windmills: the killer of birds and a plague on the land.
I live off grid with solar and a windgenerator and a diesel generator and batteries you cannot go 100% renewable sorry thats not correct there is not always wind and i live close to a wind farm you still need some base load power source
Mark Jones
a electric car in the future when its plugged in at home will make cash for you
Alex Gordon
I’d like to work on wind turbines but I don’t want to move to where they are. I should look into it though.
OMG...better you than me. I hate heights. With a puking passion. Up there? Not a hope in hell. Glad there are those who *can* go that high!
Headlines: _Unexpected electricity demand turns New York into massive traffic jam as car batteries are suddenly drained_
Josip Ćurić
"Thousands of times a second." What the frick how is that thing stable.
Leon Youngs
3:15 GCSE physics this year had this as a question; using electronic car batteries to keep supply matching demand. Saw the question and thought instantly of this video, thanks Tom!
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The Bizarre Plan to Drain the Mediterranean: The Problem With Renewable Energy 9 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)

I'm at
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on Twitter at
and on Snapchat and Instagram as tomscottgo

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