Re: I need to get some t-shirts made up...
"Why does the Grid need to quadruple STOR power?"
Because we're running far too close to the margins. STOR is a last ditch attempt to make up for the fact that we don't have enough capacity. It's the payday loan of the energy sector which prevents it from defaulting (blackout). Renewables like wind do indeed provide unpredictable and spiky power which increases the margin requirement.
"Why are gas plants not more attractive to run,"
Because they've been winding them down for ages, because historically gas prices have not been competitive with coal, and because you can't just un-mothball a plant economically unless you've got some guarantees that it's going to stay economical. And because the EU say you can't add more fossil to the grid once you've taken it off. For smaller plants, it's far better to keep a gas plant on STOR - it'll earn it's money that way, rather than trying to compete with nuclear, coal or subsidised wind.
"Why is it the politicians that shut down plants?"
Because they're in charge. They provide the laws and regulations relating to the countries infrastructure. Unless you want the French and the Germans to be in charge of our energy (which they pretty much are, as our politicians don't give a shit and it's come to crunch time.) Energy companies HAVE been screaming for new capacity, for an energy policy, for plants to be given the okay to go ahead. But no, the politicans block it to get short term green lobby votes. And it takes years to build stations. And the politicians sign us up to EU directives that state that fossil is bad m'kay, and we're LEGALLY obliged to shut it all off.
"the energy companies screwed up, not the politicians."
See above. Politics blocks the energy companies from doing what they want, and spend so long fumbling around not giving commitment or guarantees to financing or permission, or debating whether "profit" should be guaranteed for someone making a national investment. National infrastructure is not something the private sector want to pay for - the public sector holds all the cards here, and it comes with high risks with little reward. You can spend £20bn on a new plant for the next politician to come along and give it to your competitor. Why would any sane person take that risk?
"If they shut down too many plants without building new ones the energy companies screwed up"
Politicians agreed to laws stating fossil plant must be shut down. Politicians didn't agree legislation to allow new plants to be built, unless they were wind turbines, which are not fit for purpose when it comes to a stable and affordable energy supply.
"If the grid operators did not enter into enough long term contracts ... then it's operators fault."
You can't enter into a long term contract with a plant that a) is due to be shut by law or b) hasn't been built yet. What exactly are national grid supposed to do? other than explain to the politicians what a fundamental mess they're in and whose fault it is (and they've been doing that)
"In the end the consumer pays, or puts PV solar on his roof"
You can pay as much as you want - but you can't buy what doesn't exist. As for Solar PV, at this latitude - you can choose to run your microwave, or your fridge, but not both at the same time, and not at night. You'd be better off with a domestic diesel generator - but once the power cuts start, they might be commanding a nice premium.
It's a farce, a mess and a frankly stupid, entirely predictable state of affairs, and in my mind, amounts to high treason by the current and historical crop of politicians we've had. But still, even with blackouts coming as early as this year, we're STILL not building new capacity - which will in all likelyhood take until 2020 to be operational.