This forum is about wrong numbers in science, politics and the media. It respects good science and good English.
I accept some of the above. My company doesn't make solar panels and markets only to countries with predictable hot sunny climates. For the uk and other grey rainy countries I have hopes for the prospective new Hyperian mini reactors due, we hear, to be experimentally installed in Britain in 2013.
It does seem a lot simpler and safer to use home-generated electricity for heating air and water and leaving the clever alternating current to proper power stations.
Well there is such a lot of sunshine energy going begging in some countries that it seems like a good opportunity to supply to the local grid, but for us in the UK since wind and solar power is not tenable, power stations it should be - I favour coal and nuclear.
I don't think anyone here will argue with the idea of using the sun to do anything. In the end it is the economics and fundamental mechanics that make me grimace.
Subsidies shift the Smithsonian Curves (Adam Smith that is) in directions that cause efficiencies not to be found.
Agree in spirit, but what's the point of generating (hideously inefficiently) electricity to convert into heat?
What's wanted is a resonably benign salt with nice high latent heat and a melting point of around 85º (higher would pose problems with working fluids). Stick a couple of cubic yards in the cellar with LOTS of insulation and heat it from thermal panels (with, if necessary, heat pumps run off solar electricity). Most of the bits are off the shelf, so it might work OK in cases like my flat which is all-electric. Only trouble is, I haven't got a cellar!
-- Regarding the Grid controlling itself
Forrest Whitaker narrates a commercial for IBM discussing exactly my supposition above about the power lines acting as data communication lines and making the environmentally safe power options viable.
He conveniently leaves out the need for the cutoff switch the the grid needs to make the power control system work. i.e. the remotely operated switch which shuts off your AC when you need it.