DTI Energy Review 2006

Update [2006-3-27 12:50:6 by Yankee]: This was originally posted last Friday on TOD:UK, but I thought other people might want to weigh in with suggestions for Chris and TOD:UK.

On 23rd January the Secretary of State and the Minister for Energy Malcolm Wicks launched the consultation document "Our Energy Challenge: securing clean, affordable energy for the long term". Link.  There's a very slick 7 minute video that introduces the review at that link - great intro even if it doesn't mention global peak oil.

The consultation identifies five key areas on which the DTI wishes to gather our opinion:

  • Emissions and climate change
  • Energy security
  • Nuclear new build
  • Improving efficiency
  • Energy poverty
Unfortunately despite this review covering a period when by they own admission the UK will transition from a net energy exporter to importing three-quarters of our energy, precious little consideration is given to the rest of the world we'll be looking to for imports.

If anyone feels like answering specific questions we could try and pull together a response from TOD:UK.  With 7000 responses expected and the analysis not being given much time, personal responses are probably lucky even to be read.  All we can hope for is to make a addition to the probably small voice raising the concern of peak oil. The deadline is 14th April.

Questions below the fold.

Q.1 What more could the government do on the demand or supply side to ensure that the UK's long-term goal of reducing carbon emissions is met?

Q.2 With the UK becoming a net energy importer and with big investments to be made over the next twenty years in generating capacity and networks, what further steps, if any, should the government take to develop our market framework for delivering reliable energy supplies? In particular, we invite views on the implications of increased dependence on gas imports.

Q.3 The Energy White Paper left open the option of nuclear new build. Are there particular considerations that should apply to nuclear, as the government re-examines the issues bearing on new build, including long-term liabilities and waste management? If so, what are these, and how should the government address them?

Q.4 Are there particular considerations that should apply to carbon abatement and other low-carbon technologies

Q.5 What further steps should be taken towards meeting the government's goals for ensuring that every home is adequately and affordably heated?

Comments are also invited on the following issues, as described in the text.

i. The long term potential of energy efficiency measures in the transport,
residential, business and public sectors, and how best to achieve that potential.

ii. How to ensure that the most is made of the UK's remaining Continental Shelf resources (see Chapter 5.1.6)

ii. Implications in the medium and long term for the transmission and network networks of significant new build in gas and electricity generation infrastructure.

iii. Opportunities for more joint working with other countries on our energy policy goals.

iv. Potential measures to help bring forward technologies to replace fossil fuels in transport and heat generation in the medium and long term.

Can we ask another question: Is our current growth based society structure sustainable?

If the aim is sustainability, this is a key question, rather than assuming that some form of energy mix will enable growth to continue indefinitely.

If the answer is "no", other questions may arise. Such as, "how long can a growth based society be sustained?" and "should we attempt to address the sustainability issue if it is determined to be a problem far enough into the future?".


The answer to most of these questions lies in the reduction in use of fossil fuels.  To achieve this, instead of tinkering with car tax as was done in the budget, is to introduce urgently and progressively a fuel tax which would ensure the doubling of  the price of all fossil fuels within five years, with a commitment to continue the increases indefinitely.  This tax can be adjusted if the underlying cost of oil rises quickly.  This should include gas and coal used for generation of electricity.

This would bring people and industry to understand, that regardless of  their views regarding the reality of peak oil, the fuel they burn in their cars, homes and businesses is going to increase in cost relentlessly.  That will  spur conservation,  use of  more efficient vehicles, insulation of buildings, development of renewables etc.  That will have the desired effect of reducing emissions.

The tax raised can be utilised to assist with upgrading the insulation of older homes, developing electrified mass transit systems, upgrading the National Grid to handle greater use of electricity from more diverse sources, and for providing incentives for renewable technologies.

This would require a massive information campaign so that the reasons behind this are understood.  Without that, to introduce such measures would be electoral suicide.  For that reason I strongly advocate that a "Hirsch" style report is commissioned for the UK, and given the widest possible publication.

Unfortunately, there is no real alternative to the building of new Nuclear Power stations to replace the shortfall caused by the closure of older stations, and by the inevitable decline in the availability and reliability of imported gas.    Money spent in upgading gas infrastructure is wasted.

Hi Chris and folks, thought it overdue for me to pop up here since I live in UK. Been keeping an eye on TOD since June last year (the old incarnation) but didn't post there till October. Apologies for not coming here sooner - been finding it hard enought to keep up with threads at TOD lately.

I think we should make the effort to respond to the DTI energy review, by doing so we could hope that at least someone involved makes the effort to visit TOD UK and TOD. Perhaps you could suggest a timetable for pulling the response together. I might suggest about a week for initial suggestions and debate here, a bit less than a week to pull a draft together (possibly involving several people / groups of people if we have the numbers, perhaps working on different aspects) and a week to debate and refine that here before submitting.

I'll come up with some detailed comments once I've read the DTI stuff, within the next few days, may I encourage others here to do likewise? How about asking TOD to post a thread for comments once we've hatched our plan?

A couple of initial thoughts:

  • We need to reduce gas fired electricity generation as soon as possible, gas is more beneficial as a heating / cooking fuel.
  • I think mini and micro generation could have a significant part to play, development of this can be more rapidly and cost-effectively ramped up than large scale generation like clean coal and nuclear.
  • UK needs an in depth fossil energy resources study, it needs it FAST!  I think it will become increasingly unwise to remain dependent on imported supplies.
  • Nuclear has a role, certainly I would suggest we maintain or replace current nuclear electricity generation capacity, at least. It will be quite difficult to maintain our existing electricity generation capacity without nuclear.
  • Renewables have a significant role in several forms of energy, especially at local level.
  • Combined heat and power (CHP) should be encouraged for local schemes (industries, large businesses, hospitals, schools etc).
  • Incentives and disincentives encouraging efficient energy use should be strengthened.
Just to pick one, I completely agree that Micro Generation could make a big contribution. Unfortunately the grants to bridge the current financial gap expire at the end of March. There was talk in the budget of a new scheme to take over and an announcement is promised from the Department of Energy minister Malcolm Wicks on a "Microgeneration Strategy". I am told by installers that as things stand there is a six month gap in funding. This needs to be closed immediately. I believe there are many people ready and willing to add solar panels (heat and power) to their roofs and mini wind turbines to their chimneys at some expense to themselves. The problem is the financial gap (payback period)is just too large (unassisted) at this time. No doubt the planning system will also conspire against the idea, as it does with wind farms.
I'm amazed that the plummeting output of North Sea Oil isn't bigger news in the UK media.  At most it seems to get a brief mention when the UK's trade deficit is discussed.  Although I'm too young to remember, I suspect that when it first came online back in the 70s the media were a lot more interested.  Unless it's literally explosive (the Hemel Hempstead storage explosion, for instance), declines to oil supply barely rates a mention, or so it would seem.
Would it not be a fair assumption that the UK
government has no intention of solving the energy
crisis, nor the global warming crisis. All these
reviews and discussions are simply time fillers,
distractions to make it look as though something
is being done, attempts to have their cake and eat
it? Would it not be a fair assumption that all
politicians are blinded by maninstream economic
dogma of perpetual growth they will never
abandon the growth ideology until forced to?

The UK government will do whatever is necessary
to continue to create the illusion of economic
growth, even as the economy starts falling to
pieces  -hence all the silly nonsense about
additional runways and surges in air travel over
the next 30 years.

The real solutions to Britain's problems are
politically unacceptable, since they amount to
an admission that almost everything that has
been done over the past 40 years or so has been
wrong, going right back to the closure and
ripping up of much of the rail system in the

The real amswer to most of the problems that
bedevil the UK (and the world) is abandonment
of GDP and the adoption of the Genuine
Progress Index. Well the chance of that
happening is about zero.

Clearly a rapid power down, whereby people live
and work within their own community and food
is produced as close as possible to the
communituy will be necessary. I cannot for the
life of me see politicians who are committed
to globalisation suddenly turning round and
saying: "Sorry folks, we got it all wrong.
We need local manufacture, local employment,
local small scale markets, local everything."

What is far more likely is that the UK
government will continue to fiddle while Rome
burns, attempting to secure oil and natural
gas import deals with whoever they can, for
as long as possible, maybe getting engaged
in a new military fiasco, in order to delay the
dreaded day when the all the chickens come home
to roost.

If the UK government really wanted to solve the
enregy crisis it would commence with a public
education campaign pointing out that London is
likely to be under water in a few decades and
that a gradual shut of the consumer society
[throughout the world, with Britain leading the
way] is necessary to prevent it. It would remove
the annual road tax on vehicles under 800cc and
raise it to punative levels on over 1500cc
vehicles. It would subsidise bicycles and
bicycle spare parts. It would make road systems
friendly to bicycles and unfriendly to cars. It
would revitalise the rail system with
lightweight, slow-moving railstock.
It would recognise that speed is not the answer,
but is the problem. It would reintroduced
trade restrictions. It would ensure that all new
buildings are of solar design and as thermally
effcinet as possible.

Well, we can be pretty sure none of it will
happen and Britain will continue to head straight
off the cliff, just as New Zealand is.  

> It would remove the annual road tax on vehicles under 800cc and raise it to punative levels on over 1500cc vehicles.

Why do that when the fuel price do most of the work?
And why write the rules with a measurmenet of engine size that might loose its technical relevance in a few years?

I would prioritize making it easy to switch over to plug-in hybrids. Your standard fuzed high capacity electrical outlets are good ones for such systems.

> It would subsidise bicycles and bicycle spare parts.

Why do that when the fuel price do most of the work?
The bueraucracy will eat such a system from within, dont start such a waste of workhours.

> It would make road systems friendly to bicycles and unfriendly to cars.

Why create conflicts when there is room for both? In my home town most people like bicycle lanes exept those who get irritated on the ones local "greens" built to be in the way for car traffic.

> It would revitalise the rail system with lightweight, slow-moving railstock.

Why slow moving when fast moving attracts more people and can be powered with electricity from manny sources?

And build more rail lines and plan bus lanes and streets to be usefull for future trolley systems.

> It would recognise that speed is not the answer, but is the problem.

Speed is not allways wastefull. Speed up some of your trains and replace more air travel.

> It would reintroduced trade restrictions.

Brilliant to slow down trade when living on an iceland that needs trade to survive...

> It would ensure that all new buildings are of solar design and as thermally effcinet as possible.

Why do that when the fuel price do most of the work?
Ok, you can hurry on the process, my favorite is to do it with good exampels. The most important part is what can be done to make the excisting houses more energy efficient. (The most important part in US suburbia is probably what can be done to cheaply fit two families into a modified excisting house. That is if my over-the-internet impression is correct. )

Yes, railways are the future. But what kind of railways? I think we should be thinking of building a new type of railway network with a substantially wider track gauge. There are substantial savings to be made here. One can transport far more goods and people for only a relatively minor increase in fuel consumption. Though the cost initially would be expensive. However, I believe the idea would be an interesting sign to send to the population that we were taking the whole Peak Oil phenomenon seriously and it might even capture the public imagination.

Flexibility and incremental improvements are more important then raw capacity. Wider track gauge would be good for cargo limited by volume and do very little for dense cargo limited by axle preassure.

What is being done in Sweden is a gradual enlargement of the loading profile and upgrading of the railway lines for larger axle preassure. This gives most of the benefits of a wider gauge withouth the incompatibility costs.
http://www.banverket.com/upload/pdf/marknad/jarnvagsnatsbeskrivning/Lastprofil%20A_B%20och%20C%20040 714.pdf
The intresting examples for higher axle loads can often be fond in USA, they also double stack containers wich is impossible in Sweden due to numerous bridges and the electrification.

You can also get more capacity by longer trains and better traffic control systems such as the ERTMS that is to become the new pan european standard.

Find needed railway lines that can be built with current technology and standards, getting them to run a few years earlier then odd projects should be inspiring.

Sorry Folks,


Jay Hanson, Reg Morrision, author of "Spirit in the Gene", and ANGRYCHIMP are engaging in a totally mind-stunning debate on instinctive conspiracies & open conspiracies.

If you have not joined the Yahoo forum  DIEOFF_Q&A,  NOW IS THE TIME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Bob Shaw in Phx,AZ  Are Humans SMarter than Yeast?

OK, guys. Who can give me specs on this? Wind-turbine? 3 looks like 15 foot blades. What kind of kilowatts do you get out of that? Also, how much does height of turbine effect performance. How feasible is it to put these on tops of highrises in cities?
From the U.S. gov. at this url:


The following extracts on rough numbers for small turbines:

AEO= 0.01328 D V

*    AEO = Annual energy output (kilowatt-hours [kWh]/year)
*    D = Rotor diameter, feet
*    V = Annual average wind speed, miles-per hour (mph), at your site

A general rule of thumb is to install a small wind turbine on a tower with the bottom of the rotor blades at least 30 feet (9 meters) above any obstacle that is within 300 feet (90 meters) of the tower.

Mounting small wind turbines on rooftops is not recommended. All wind turbines vibrate and transmit the vibration to the structure on which they are mounted. This vibration can lead to noise and structural problems with the building, and mounting on the rooftop can expose the turbine to excessive turbulence that can shorten its life.

Thank you immensely for your help. Would you happen to know what average/common rotor diameters are on these units on the larger windfarms? And what is the price of one of these units.  Ballpark estimates are all I need. This issue of structures being effected by vibrations is something I hadn't thought of. There was a good piece NPR did the other day about these windfarms. People that live near them say they are noisy as hell.The one I describe is an experimental one they've set up in Boston. You definitely can't hear it. I'll attach photos soon.
Hmmm... very sorry for posting that, it is the equation as posted, but makes no sense when you work the numbers.

Here is one that does make sense, from the Ontario Canada Gov't at this URL:


AEO = 1.64 D2 V3
AEO = Annual energy output, kWh/year
D = rotor diameter, meters
V = Annual average wind speed, m/s

So, in my case the avg. wind speed is 5 m/sec, and if we assume a 10m rotor diameter based on your example we get:
1.64 X 100 X 125 = 20,500 kwh /yr.

Ontario has just announced a fixed price buy offer for wind energy of $0.11 /kwh from independant generators, so at that rate we would expect to get $2,255 of electricity per year from the unit you saw.

This does not account for purchase or maintainance of the turbine, tower, inverter, etc...

It's about 2 households worth of electricity at current consumption rates.

Off topic, (but not really)

Bush and Blair agreed to war before Security council meeting, irrespective of WMD - NY times reports

I don't think we should be too despondent about whether a common response from TOD community would be read ("With 7000 responses expected and the analysis not being given much time, personal responses are probably lucky even to be read.")

Once upon a time I was a civil servant in the then Department of the Environment, and I 'ran' the public consultation on the THORP plant at Sellafield, which had some 15000 responses, if memory serves. Most were of the pre-packaged postcard type, as supplied by Greenpeace, but many were not. Every submission was read by a civil servant; all the substantial responses were incorporated into advice given to the minister responsible (John Gummer). In particular, any cogently argued perspective HAD to be addressed in advice to the minister. Now  the situation here is slightly different, in that the legal constraints were much more significant (if, eg, Greenpeace could show that the minister had not taken account of a significant argument, the decision to proceed would be subject to revision at a judicial review. I think there was a review in any case, but the government won because it could show that it had considered all arguments).

I would recommend putting together a significant and thorough group response from TOD:UK, before the deadline goes in. I would expect the main elements to be incorporated into briefing to the relevant minister - even if the government goes against what we think to be wise. Someone would need to coordinate it, of course - Chris?

The question of judicial review is an interesting one. I would have thought that there was a strong case for taking the government's position on new runways to court, as I think the absence of consideration of Peak Oil is materially negligent.

Thanks for that information - how long did it take to read all the responses and compile the report?

As for the response - more than happy to compile a substantial response.  Just looking for cogently argued answers from you guys! :)

Around four months. I had a team of about a dozen 'temps' to process the individual postcards, and there were about three of us who read all the substantial comments. I'd be happy to say a bit more off-list if you'd like to e-mail me. (I might be able to help with the common response to a minor extent as well)
I have just joined, and am an engineer. Both oil and gas depletion and climate change are expressed quantitatively. Therefore any worthwhile energy policy response must be expressed quantitatively. This ensures that proposals can be checked for validity (the assumptions and numbers are consistent with the relevant science and technology) and adequacy (the numbers add up to the objective).
I carried out such a study for the UK and submitted it for the 2003 Energy Review. Entitled 'Energy Solutions for 60% Carbon Reduction', it is at http://www.energypolicy.co.uk It is based on energy and carbon and found that ranges of solutions are available using current energy technologies (i.e. not nuclear or carbon sequestration). About half of the carbon reduction is achieved by energy saving - including increased energy efficiency - and the other half by biofuels (both home-grown and imported) and wind turbines (assumed offshore). I also examined the trade-offs between UK land used for growing biomass, the volume of imported biofuels, and the amount of electricity from wind turbines. The text includes reasons for choosing the particular energy technologies and - in Part II - a framework for delivery of the objective by Energy Service Companies subject to Carbon Emission Obligations.
The model is embodied in .xls spreadsheets and may be examined and run (using the 'Solver') on almost any PC. Moreover, it is generic and - with appropriate changes to the input data - could be applied to other countries or regions and carbon reductions. I welcome any comments and criticisms.
'Why do that when the fuel price do most of the work?'

Well quite clearly fuel price does not. One pound
a litre does not deter petrol heads. Will two
pounds a litre? Or three pounds a litre? Obviously
the entire economy would fall over if that level of
pricing were to be achived rapidly. But it's coming
anyway. As is an economic catastrophe, as Britain's
oil and gas fields run down and more energy has to
be purchased from overseas, eventually causing a
monstrous blowout in the nation's debt.

The choice is betweeen a soft landing and a hard
landing. Politicians notoriously delay hard
decisions in the hope that they can retire before
the SHTF. They notoriously opt for a hard landing
later, rather than adopt unpopular measures now.

The fact is, Britian needs to undergo a culture
change so dramatic that most Britons are clearly
not prepared to accept it yet. As long as the
matra of economic growth prevails, there really
is little long term hope. As long as the love
affair with travel is allowed to continue,
Britain's future will continue to be sacrificed.  

Land will be lost at an ever increasing rate,
as the meltdown of Arctic and Antartic glaciers
accelerates. The frequency and extent of storm
damage will increase, there will be more droughts,
more water restrictions, more ill health. Eventaully
the oil-based food system will collapse ..... all
so that people can continue to drive big cars and
take package holidays for just that little bit
longer instead of adjusting their lifestyles now.

It's all too ridiculous for words.

Its more rediculous than that.
Even to do what people want; e.g., go from A to B in their private car, a lot less energy is needed than we burn now.
See this 1,5 l/100 km car for 4 persons : www.loremo.com
Even small cars today burn 3-4 times that, and why?
So that we can pull up faster, and be in trafic jams for a little longer...
Check out this neat energy futures simulator from the BBC. Try reducing fossil fuels by 50% and leaving imports and nuclear at zero --> it's possible to meet 2020 targets!
The second report of the House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology dated July 05, 2005 considered the option of 'Lifeline' (or Inverted) tariffs for energy consumption.  The principal behind such tariffs for domestic supplies of electricity and gas is that an amount of energy, typically 50 to 60% of national average household consumption is supplied to each consumer at a low rate and progressively higher rates are levied on consumption above these basic levels.

Such tariffs have been used elsewhere but, for some reason, UK seems rather stuck with a system whereby profligate consumption is rewarded by lower rates for heavy users whereas small user households are effectively penalised by high standing charges and / or higher unit charges.

Offgem have issued a paper opposing the above committee's tariff suggestions as they maintain 'Lifeline' tariffs might undermine investment in the industry.  My view is that such tariffs represent 'low hanging fruit' in that they could precipitate a major change in consumer behaviour simply by what is effectively a computer / billing change.  In other words no time consuming and expensive infrastructure changes would be required to start to influence consumption of the more profligate energy consumers.  Incidentally such tariffs could be applied to water too once a critical mass have water meters.

Relevant section (5.26) of the report is located here: http://www.parliament.the-stationery-office.co.uk/pa/ld200506/ldselect/ldsctech/21/2108.htm#a30

I became interested in the problem associated with the possibility of dwindling
oil and gas reserves when I read the report from Roscoe Bartlet addressing the problem.

The most likely solution for Great Britain is to make maximum investment into infrastructure to harvest the vast wind resource.
Wind has been held as insufficient due to the intermittent nature.

I will suggest a solution to this as the offshore potential is large enough to cover all the electricity need in Europe. In Norway is research going on to utilize anchored floating wind turbines and then is the production potential enormous.A small part of the North Sea can cover all electricity needs in Europe. Areas with shallow enough water to make fixed structures feasible is limited compared to the vast areas with water depth between 100 and 500m.

When the production is intermittent then is the solution to have a demand which can follow the variation in wind production without problems.
We have to create a new industry which can produce some useful products with storage possibilities.
Among possible useful product is HYDROGEN , METHANOL and DME.
As we move over to the down slope of Hubberts curve are those products desperately needed as the main problem will be lack of liquid fuels rater han electricity.
When hydrogen from electrolyzis is combined with a carbon source is it possible to produce Methanol, DME or other products.

Methanol is the only liquid fuel which is useable both in otto and diesel egines as well as fuel cells.
DME is the ideal fuel for diesel engines. DME is gaseous and easier to store than hydrogen .
Hydrogen is the ideal fuel for fuel cells and useable in otto engines.

The most economically carbon source without new CO2 emissions is biomass as it contains some hydrogen as well.The partial oxidation gasification process (which also can use the oxygen from the electrolyzis) combined with added hydrogen has the potential to produce almost 4 times more liquid fuel than the Ethanol fermation process.

Great Britain is low on biomass recourses but 20% or more of demanded liquid fuel may be possible.
A a greater expence it is possible to produce more liquid fuel by utilizing CO2 from flue gas or even athmospheric CO2 if enough electricity is availiable.

When wind availability is above expected level is hydrogen and oxygen produced for storage in addition to delivery to attached liquid fuel plants.
When wind availability is below expected level and demand exeeds production, then it is possible to quickly switch off some or all electrolyze facilities without harming the equipment and the rest of the plants can operate from stored hydrogen and oxygen for a limited time depending of storage capacity installed.

The benefits from this is then:
Possibility to phase in as much wind generated energy as desire,  wind      recourses and investment money allows.
Increased security and availability as a large part (and CO2 free) of liquid fuel amount is produced at home.
A possibility to fulfill peak electricity demand by shutting down heavy users which can cope with it, without having to idling and starting gas powered backup plants.
A significant CO2 emission reduction by reduction of conventional fuels as well as
a higher electricity generation from a CO2 free source.

A solution which generates the necessary electricity combined with production of desperately needed fuel as well as adressing the problem of peak demand and the CO2 problem has to be persued.

Todays generating capability is still there and what is mentioned abowe can be phased in gradually to cover new demand and replacing old production when desired.

it is a good possibility when anchored wind turbines are ready then is the production cost lower or level with gas fired power plants. The startup investment cost is much higher but then is the fuel free. A future low gas price scenario is very unlikelly, the price will rise perhaps very much and the security regarding delivery may be questioned.

A complete new super grid presumeabely HVDC which takes DC close to end users and all the way to the electrolyzers is probably a good idea.


Not sure if anyone thought about this one yet, but I don't think you actually can run a national electricity grid without fossil fuels.

Why not?

AC electricity networks connect Production to Demand. And since you can't store any AC on the network cables, Production must AT ANY TIME equal Demand.

Now how is this managed?
There is a System Operator in the country that monitors the network frequency : if the frequency looks like it's going to go below the Norm, this means Demand is getting bigger than Production; so they regulate Production up. And vice versa.
You need to continuously steer Production to keep exactly in pace with Demand.

Things to know about Demand :
- you can't actually steer it - not for the residential sector anyway.

Things to know about different types of Production :

  • Wind energy is only available when there is some wind (but not too much). Unfortunately this is not always the same time as when you need it.
  • Solar : same thing, but sunlight.

Actually, these renewable energy sources put a lot of pressure on the regulating capacity of the System. You always need to have gas-fired plants available with the same capacity as the renewables, for when they switch off unexpectedly - as they always seem to do.

- Nuclear plants provide a steady baseload to the net. They have a good deal of capacity, but are not meant for regulating power. They react slowly.

I'd like to see the first study that shows how to keep a national network from collapsing, if all you get is nuclear and renewable to work with for balancing.

If you know, please enlighten me...

... when [the renewables] switch off unexpectedly - as they always seem to do.

Multiple renewable sources spread over wide areas suffer this problem to a much smaller extent due to geographic averaging.  It helps that individual wind and wave generators would be fairly small, so varying the active fraction would provide some load following over moderate timescales.  (Preferably combined with a wear leveling algorhythm to spread out the stop/start cycles over as many units as possible.)

Thermal solar is big and not suited to load following, but photovoltaic solar with electronic inverters could be made to respond in practical terms instantly.  PV is so expensive, though, that it's probably better to run at full power whenever possible - could still be useful in case of sudden load drops.

The problem of grid energy storage is well known.

One fairly cheap way to store large amounts of energy is in hydroelectric pumped storage - the energy return is only about 75% but it's already in large-scale use in some areas with cheap base-load power.  Existing conventional hydro is also not so difficult to run in a load-following mode.  If I understand it properly, such units can perform full-power ramps in only a few minutes if required.

An organization called Dynamic Demand is promoting the use of subsidies to promote buying demand-control appliances (the best suited are refigerators and freezers) since their use reduces required spinning reserve.  They have a simulation showing that such appliances could make a substantial contribution to frequency control.

Agree, but this is still a pretty substantial shift in infrastructure. How long will it take to build hydro-capacity? Where can you build this?
And then again, this has never been done before, so it is still theory, so maybe urgently time to test if this would work.
Right, it is probably unrealistic for me to gloss over such problems, especially considering the tight market in concrete, steel, etc. which are normally needed in vast quantities.

... test if this would work.

We know pumped hydro works, but it may not be feasible to build.

There's some sort of a test of the Dynamic Demand prototype going on now, but I doubt many people will get one who weren't already going to buy a new refigerator/freezer.

I guess the bottom line is, it looks like the technical solutions are pretty much already known (barring some putative breakthrough which I don't want to put too many bets on), and it's pretty safe to conclude that techology changes alone won't allow "business as usual".