The Problem With Renewable Energy (and how we're fixing it)

  • Published on: 18 August 2016
  • ( 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.

    CORRECTION: 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

    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
    on Twitter at
    on Facebook at
    and on Instagram and Snapchat as tomscottgo
  • Runtime : 4:6
  • tom scott tomscott things you might not know Wind power wind energy rotational mass grid stability system inertia wind turbine Griffin windfarm SSE Renewable energy wind farm scotland


  • Tom Scott
    Tom Scott   3 months ago

    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

  • Ishari
    Ishari   4 days ago

    It's almost as if decentralization was a great idea that fixes many problems :O

  • GPO
    GPO   1 weeks ago

    rather have one nuclear powerplant than a million windmills that also needs maintenance and has to be replaced every 20-25 years

  • Brad Davies
    Brad Davies   1 weeks ago

    Miracle turbines don't spin but produce power.

  • Mike in MD
    Mike in MD   1 weeks ago

    So, when the wind stops, it'll suck the charge out of your car. Then what? Call an uber? More likely than not, it'll be petrol powered since full time availability and on demand response is required. Imagine being at work, coming out in the dark, and you haven't got enough charge to make it home! Worse, since it is night time, all the power generated is going into homes, so you can't charge until there is surplus the next day! How silly!Of course, you argue, the smart car won't let itself get fully discharged. Really? Can you imagine that electric car owners don't want to take that chance, so they won't connect to charging stations while at work. But then, it wouldn't be in anyone who is alive now lifetime when we have a one for one charging stations to vehicles ratio. Did I just convince myself that this was the most disengenuos report ever told?Good job, by the way, for eliminating coal plants. Let's hope that doesn't cause power shortages as in other European countries and Australia. China and India will use all the coal you don't want!

  • mic pic
    mic pic   1 weeks ago

    Quit screwing around with all of this crap and develop fusion.

  • AJ the guy
    AJ the guy   1 weeks ago

    "The problem with renewable energy"The fossil/mineral fuel industry: 👁️👁️

  • 6 6
    6 6   2 weeks ago

    Actually, the real problem is that this is not renewable by any means. It uses massive natural resources that are unsustainable even in the fantasy world in which people live.

  • basil tozer
    basil tozer   2 weeks ago

    Wind turbines are destroying the world, they are doing the opposite, of what they say. Its all a lie.

  • thisisnumber0
    thisisnumber0   2 weeks ago

    Electric cars powering the grid? Are you mad? Give me strength, they're struggling to achieve any kind of useful range for themselves, never mind the bloody grid.PS... any cure for those little problems wind turbines produce, you know, vandalism of the landscape and destruction of birds?

  • Tanner stull
    Tanner stull   2 weeks ago

    Think these style of videos are great, easy 4 minute clips since our attention spam is so crap now haha

  • John Bleck
    John Bleck   2 weeks ago

    30% of the time it works all the time.

  • Detueftler
    Detueftler   2 weeks ago

    The whole place was a forrest. And thats also something you didn't know!

  • Charles Bates
    Charles Bates   2 weeks ago

    The entire premise of renewables is absurd. They make no economic sense. CO2 is not a pollutant. It's all about controlling the behavior of populations.

  • Joey George
    Joey George   2 weeks ago

    I thought those windmills were for making flour 😣

  • melting pot meme
    melting pot meme   3 weeks ago

    You ever smell a smell you haven't smelled in a long time?

  • Angus Scott Dickins
    Angus Scott Dickins   3 weeks ago

    But the power outage across England in 2019 acknowledged as caused by wind turbine fault put the grid down for a long time. Where was the backup power then. Germany which relies on wind power has discovered that coal is the go to back up power source. If millions of electric cars are used as backup how will owners get to work when batteries are drained. The current "green renewable" technology seems to be expensive, heavily subsidised wishful thinking - but it does win electoral votes and our politicians never miss an opportunity to virtue signal.

  • Andrew Storey
    Andrew Storey   3 weeks ago

    It amazes me how many people in the comments section think they know about this machine but are totally wrong and how miss informs if this video is

  • Link Hidalgogato
    Link Hidalgogato   3 weeks ago

    just flywheel flywheel are for this its their whole thing

  • Dene. F.
    Dene. F.   3 weeks ago

    You are an English person, it's called petrol in England silly billy! Sigh!

  • dr rd
    dr rd   3 weeks ago

    I got a more sustainable opinion. Reduce the population. Reduce useless consumption and you won't need as much energy.

  • A Twinspark
    A Twinspark   3 weeks ago

    Average car does circa 8,000 miles, circa 38 million cars in the UK, average watt hours per mile circa 180whm x 21 miles per day @ 180w = 3.78 kW per day or 3780 Watts, 38 million cars = 143.6 Giga Watts per day. Drax has a capacity of 6 x 660 Mega Watts = 3.9 Giga Watts per hour which equates to 95.04 Giga Watts per day. The whole of the UK could go full electric cars for the addition of 1.5 Drax power stations or with 60 (99 Mega Watt) Griffin Wind farms or 11 (539 Mega Watt) Whitelee wind farms.Not impossible dreams as put forward by op-posers to clean transport.

  • Zero Fighter
    Zero Fighter   4 weeks ago

    Get these alternative systems working, and prove that they work, and that they're competitively priced compared to the current status quo, and people will be happy to step up to make the change. Until those conditions are met, don't expect anything to change.

  • nazir nauth
    nazir nauth   4 weeks ago

    it will be easier to put a driveshaft on that windmil and send the power to the base of the pole then connect it to the generator... this will be easier to,mount the thing and also cheaper... cheaper even for maintenance.

  • Robert Day
    Robert Day   1 months ago

    What happens when the wind doesn't blow and the sun doesn't shine ????????? Where's all that power coming from especially as the demand for power is going to go up massively with all these electric cars and so on coming???? and the demise of the humble gas fired domestic boiler being done away with ,NONE OF YOU HAVE THE ANSWERS THOUGH DO YOU.!!!!WE STILL NEED CONVENTIONAL POWER STATIONS. most of you lot are just dreaming.

  • Ronald Mitaxa
    Ronald Mitaxa   1 months ago

    Regardless of what these renewable clowns claim it still remains a proven fact that renewable generation will deliver any base load requirement.

  • P Cass
    P Cass   1 months ago

    If these wind turbines can power cities....why aren't they, then reducing costs to householders. Energy companies are just harnessing this power and charging the consumer more for it!

  • Norbert Fleck
    Norbert Fleck   1 months ago

    No electric car is capable of feeding back electricity into the grid. Neither the on-board charging circuit nor the charging post will allow that.

  • James Taylor
    James Taylor   1 months ago

    Would be interesting to know how expensive it is to run these farms compared to coal/nuclear. From a dollar to power output ratio, I can't help but think it would end up costing consumers a lot more. Also, what's the repair and life of a wind turbine? How expensive are they to fix, maintain? How often do they need to be replaced? ALl of these things need to be realistically considered. It's great to have renewable energy but not at the cost of bankrupting the country.

  • Greg Hassler
    Greg Hassler   1 months ago

    "The grid works right now because of massive steel turbines that act as flywheels"Also"Flywheels are experimental at the moment and not particularly efficient"

  • meangreenf150
    meangreenf150   1 months ago

    Too bad they can't just mount massive capacitors to the windmills. Given current technology, the reserve capacity would probably be beyond lethal, and yet still be insufficient to cure voltage stability/imbalance issues.

  • Rob C
    Rob C   1 months ago

    Capacitor banks or a capacitor on every home?Maybe the new sand batteries that are in development.Oh and I worked on the power grid in America for close to 20 years and never new that all the turbines run at the same speed BUT i do know they don't run at a 1000 revolution per SECOND maybe a minute.

  • Martin Balber
    Martin Balber   1 months ago

    This video was presented by the Chinese wind farm industry. The video failed to mention a key point. They needed to say no 'coal' usage as if wind is saving GB and the world. But...."80% of the UK’s 25 million homes are powered by gas – and around a quarter of the country’s electricity is generated by gas-fired power stations. Gas plants are one of the most flexible ways to generate electricity, as they can rapidly provide power during periods of high demand."

  • Martin Balber
    Martin Balber   1 months ago

    And the grid will decide for you your energy needs. No thanks. Windmills and Solar Panels needed to drive the USA would take the entire land mass of California, Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico. If all cars are electric, no one would get to work. Peak Demand