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

( 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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20 Responses to The Problem With Renewable Energy (and how we’re fixing it)

  1. Embeh says:

    MEGA WATT is NOT  a unit of capacity!!!

  2. hintss says:

    Many wind turbines use induction generators (, which, when hooked up to an AC grid and spun at above synchronous speed, will always output power in sync with grid frequency.

  3. Joe Chief says:

    "There isn't a battery in the world big enough to store power on a national scale"

    Elon Musk: "Hold my beer":

  4. vacri54 says:

    What was the hard-hat protecting you from? Kestrel fly-bys? 🙂

  5. Calvin Whizz says:

    Tesla has a battery big enough, well for southern Australia

  6. Mark Reichman says:

    I learned something today.

  7. Luke brennan says:

    Hey wtf about the birds it’s killing there’s literally a dead bird collection guy who’s job if to rake up bird corpses

  8. Delta Phoenix says:

    And that was something I didn’t know!

  9. Ryan Luk says:

    There isn't a battery big enough… oh Elon Musk just did that o.O

  10. Meep Changeling says:

    Or, or, ooooorrrr… We could just keep using nuclear plants. Build some thorium reactors. Toss in some fusion plants in like, 10 years. Just saying.

  11. Ashmeed Mohammed says:

    usually, one would charge the vehicle battery when at home, sleeping, at night. so, when there is little wind or solar generation, is when u need the most power.

  12. Lennart Mangels says:

    That farm is nothing go to northern germany dude they are everywhere😅

  13. Władca Wymiaru says:

    The true problem is…windmills create a mist…

  14. evilution says:

    "There isn't a battery in the world big enough to store power on a national scale".
    Forward 1 year and Tesla completes a national grid battery in Australia in under 100 days.

  15. jake black says:

    Your the most intelligent daddy ever.

  16. tully adams says:

    there isnt a battery big enough in the world to power a country : australia😂

  17. Kadin Hernandez says:

    Those who would like to contribute to the environment positively or members of the family who wish to decrease their energy expenses should make use of the generating power method “boma fetching unique” (Google it). Everyone’s looking for ways to live green and save a little green these days.

  18. Adam Thornton says:

    It kind of sounds like fly wheels are what we're using now, except we call them turbines.

  19. dannypeck666 says:

    RE: electric cars
    what about people who drive when energy is cheapest? will i get into my tesla 2030 model and find i have no battery because energy was expensive so my car sold off the electricity?

  20. Lane Gaspar says:

    As electricity prices rise over time, looking for ways to cut your power bill and produce your own power is increasingly important. This is a generating power method “boma fetching unique” (Google it) to reduce your electric bill and see instant monthly savings.

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