Willem, I think you might be surprised by what is actually happening to tackle this problem. Rationing is not on the table and such talk is merely scaremongering. Do not hide your head in the sand; instead, read on...
In Germany, an interesting [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aNZgjEDPe24] pilot project at Kassel University has shown how tackling intermittency will work in practice. Germany absolutely will lead the way on this as it is a crucial means to meet its twin targets of eliminating nuclear power while reducing carbon emissions.
The smart grid will be vital in balancing demand and supply, and an EPRI report [http://my.epri.com/portal/server.pt/gateway/PTARGS_0_234325_317_205_776_43/http%3B/uspalecp604%3B7087/publishedcontent/publish/epri_analysis_estimates_costs_benefits_of_fully_developing_smart_grid_da_777189.html] suggests that by enabling greater integration of renewable technologies, as well as reducing consumption, the smart grid could cut US 2030 carbon emissions by a staggering 58%, against a 2005 baseline. The benefits to society will far outweigh the costs - by up to $2,028 billion, EPRI says. In Britain, the savings to consumers are calculated at £7.3 billion.
Another crucial issue here is energy storage. Renewable energy generated for electricity (and of course all electricity) can be stored in a number of ways for use when needed:
* landfill, sewage gas or biogas generated by anaerobic digestion and algae can be stored conventionally ready for use in a gas-fired power station that can be fired up at a moments notice
* hydrogen can be generated to be stored ready for use in a similar way
* pumped storage for hydroelectric generation, as in the North Wales Dinorwig plant, built in 1984
* molten salts can store heat for up to 18 hours, which can then be used to drive turbines. This is being used in concentrated solar power stations in the US. Another system is described here: http://www.zeitnews.org/energy/another-cheap-way-to-store-solar-and-wind...
* flywheels - being developed by, amongst others, America's Beacon Power, as an energy storage system on a grid-scale. Gene Hunt from Beacon Power gave a presentation recently which showed that that the system’s response time of four seconds is superior to fossil fuel plants taking up to five minutes, given that signals from energy operators can change every few seconds. He said market and regulatory reform present a central challenge, suggesting the creation of an energy storage regulatory category separate from energy generation. [http://2ndgreenrevolution.com/2011/03/08/world-future-energy-summit-wfes-2011-%e2%80%9ctechnology-forum%e2%80%9d-touches-on-all-major-green-technologies/#ixzz1O0dJqscE]
Another crucial point to understand is that because electricity has so far been tough to store and has had to be consumed as soon as it has generated, then this has dominated energy planning - forcing the construction of sufficient generation plant to meet peak demands.
But as soon as demand is managed better by the smart grid, and electricity can be stored, then this reduces the need for so much generation capacity.
So we save money and emissions by not needing so many polluting plants. Consumers benefit. Taxpayers benefit. The planet benefits. And no need for rationing. It's a triple-win pathway.