I see you've gotten a 'Troll' for your seasoned GP remark. Around here that means you're on the right track. There's a lot of delusion around here.
The 'smart grid' argument is a 21st century phenomenon where smart takes on the meaning that robust used to have. And the term robust has slipped too --- it used to mean engineered well enough to be truly resilient to failure, now it is often used to describe a mere excess of something, usually taken to absurd limits.
Advocates of 'smart' things center their argument on waste and inefficiency, as if we had attained some optimum level of energy production years ago and have been just pissing it all away. They'll reach into thin air (and other places) for figures like 30-50% waste and when someone presents a study that identifies a specific loss in a certain place that is say, 3-5%, unacceptable only in some perfectionist sense of engineering, those who claimed the higher figure will cry "See? I told you so!" as if their error of magnitude is unworthy of note. They will then go on to propose changes that require everyone to manufacture and purchase and deploy centrally monitored smart widgets everywhere that are all watched over by machines of loving grace to nip that 50% (oops actually less than 10%) in the bud. They're actually just saying, "We like to think about complicated things and (fragile) intricate networks, so every time you speak of increasing capacity we'll derail the discussion to talk about smart widgets and waste because no one can stop us."
Advocates of 'robust' windsolarwhatever multipliers run smack into your stochastic wall, but even though you have expressed it well it will not faze them a bit. If you point out that even at 'optimum' efficiency the yield for wind is typically 30% they'll take that unimaginably ludicrous number of turbines that would need to be built and triple it, problem solved. Your stochastic point is completely lost. There is no way to counter the idea that the wind is always blowing somewhere and these people are actually imagining giant wind turbines hopping back and forth across the continent trailing transmission umbilici behind to gather in throngs where the wind is the strongest. Or easier still, simply imagine them as having been built there. They saw a wind map one day and imagined that's the way it 'is' and do not recall the continent ever being under a stable high pressure dome for weeks with generally light and variable winds. Not one of them would be willing to gamble their own lives on the bet that there will be wind on any day in any location, yet they'll do their small part to drive society, by small degrees, to a point where it is hanging on a desperate and stupid gamble.
When someone mentions 'storage' technology it should be whispered, with the eyes gazing heavenward to beg forgiveness. For these folks know or care little of the devastating ecological horrors they are proposing. By going with that gigajoule-level storage paradigm to somehow salvage what is an (already) ridiculous idea of replacing few 1-10GW plants with many intermittent geographically dispersed 3-50MW sources... the storage solution for this level of energy is freaklishly and chemically insane. Storage is where the most bizarre bedfellows emerge from the shadows. They imagine a few lithium batteries the size of skyscrapers that rendered large areas (in other countries) uninhabitable in their manufacture, or (if they're more practical) great lakes of acid and lead plates. Of course if you press them on the matter they won't admit to imagining any of those things. Instead they are thinking of the little safe and friendly batteries in their cellphones and cars gently and lovingly encased in plastic, maybe a little bigger, connected by enough copper wire to render large areas (in other countries) into desolate open pit mines. Or taking temporary refuge from reality altogether --- imagining game-changer things such as a (mumble mumble) matrix (mumble) graphene mumble. Something the size of a house that can store so much energy that it will level a city block if anything goes wrong. Which it will. It may toxify the planet to manufacture and kill people but it isn't nuclear so it's safe.
But it goes even further. These storage bedfellows beyond environmental hypocrites, they are monsters. I've seen with my own eyes folks who think fracking is intolerable but the idea of pumping air into the Earth is cool. Let's take the hypothetically incomprehensible number of intermittent energy sources we need and increase it again 3x-10x to compensate for more 'practical' forms of energy storage with tiny efficiency factors --- yet do not involve batteries and chemistry. Like blowing air into mines, or the most popular, pumping water uphill. Oh great --- now we are building hydroelectric plants (in addition to the wind turbines) on a scale beyond any that presently exist. Whose only purpose is to harness energy from water that humans have lifted up-hill to, um, where? Into giant lakes of course! Ones that presently do not exist. Or do exist and some kindly socialist government has 'acquired' it from the locals. Or on lands unfit for lakes to which, um, plastic?, bed-liners have been placed. Or something, anything! Oops, evaporation. Better double the amount of intermittent energy sources again to compensate. And where does the water come from in the first place? Canada of course.
We haven't even touched on time. How many days must/should this storage be able to carry the grid? No one was ever derided, or had their thesis score penalized, for suggesting 1-3 days. As if there has never been a continent-wide freeze or other event that could possibly decrease solar yield for longer. By now I've lost track of the multipler by which we'd need to increase the capacity of intermittent sources to compensate for the absurdity of the basic approach. And the time thing is a bit hairy too.
So are the people who have latched onto these schemes really certain that they would work, or are they actually just certain that we're wasting most of the energy anyway? Are they really concerned about waste, or merely certain that any global measures down this road will impact other people first? They've got brains. So what is it, exactly?
Nature has already shown us some great ways to store release energy from chemical bonds, and some truly fantastic methods of breeding energy-dense but short-lived isotopes superior to any chemical means by a factor of a million --- and even ways to do this that keep hazardous waste volume small and waste decay to safe levels to a few hundred years.
But that's nuclear. And nuclear is off the table. And there you have it. There are relatively few people who actually stand to benefit from the push for intermittent energy sources, and none will benefit in the end. But what of the others say, those who insist on talking up this awful mess of ideas, though their day-jobs do not hinge upon it?
The one thing that unites intermittent energy advocates, including the ones who claim they're not opposed to nuclear energy yet fail to mention it because it's not fun to discuss it right now and they want to be trendy and popular, is deep down really, opposition to nuclear energy.
Opposition to nuclear energy in any form --- including pushing this intermittent source crap solution --- itself deserves serious opposition.
It is no longer enough to just raise children without an irrational fear of nuclear energy. They must become aware at a young age that there is a silent war on and they must, in order to ensure the continued survival of modern civilization, begin to oppose and publicly ridicule those who exhibit this fear. This may range from a gentle instruction and chiding of those who express misgivings honestly and openly, to a direct and aggressive attack on the greatest sources of danger in our time --- those who deliberately cloak their anti-nuclear sentiment in Byzantine ways that serve to derail debate and parry the subject to other 'alternative' approaches. In other words, this is an existential threat.
"I'm for all forms of energy, and storage, the more complicated is better! No one can fault me for that!"
It's time that we did. There's a fire and they're blocking the exits.