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We enjoyed halcyon days before the energy market was privatised

The hard-pressed energy customers in the UK are to be faced again with substantial increased costs in their bills because, it is reported, supply is finding it difficult to meet demand ("Bills to rise as Ofgem chief warns of energy squeeze", The Herald, February 20).

The benefits of implementing the principles of Thatcherism in the UK energy market have been increasingly called into question. Sections of the essential infrastructure, associated with the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity in the UK, are now in other than British hands. Spanish, French, German and other owners and shareholders are now doing well out of the British electricity customer. We even have EDF, more than 80% owned by the French state, buying into the UK energy market and making large profits from it.

We are also faced with the aspirational plans of the SNP Government that Scotland should have the installed means to be entirely reliant on renewables by 2020. The phrase "comin' in on a wing and a prayer" springs to mind in relation to this matter of such national importance to Scotland.

Unfortunately the need to generate profits and to satisfy shareholders is now the basic driving force in making decisions relative to the construction of new power stations rather than the national interest. In this respect privatisation was an own goal.

Given the current state of affairs, one can be forgiven, I believe, for being subject to a fit of nostalgia. Some of us can recall when energy requirements were anticipated, planned, met and priced in the national interest of Scotland and for Scotland with at times a bit to spare for export to England. The South of Scotland Electricity Board and the North of Scotland Hydro Electric Board may have discharged their responsibilities in a comparatively staid and unspectacular fashion, but at least those living in their respective areas knew that matters were dealt with professionally and cost-effectively to ensure all demands, industrial, commercial and domestic, would be met, in the absence of temporary and unexpected emergencies.

I fear future events may confirm those were indeed halcyon days.

Ian W Thomson,

38 Kirkintilloch Road,

Lenzie.

Duncan M McFarlane writes: "Wind would be far more effective as a source of power if we had more storage capacity" (Letters, February 18).

A lead in providing such storage is being developed in Norway by Statcraft, Europe's largest renewable energy company.

The company, which constructs both wind and hydro power systems, states in relation to wind power: "On windy days surplus power could be used to pump water from low to high altitude reservoirs. The water could in turn be released to generate power when demand is high and wind levels are low."

Research into electricity storage indicates that pumped hydro storage is the most efficient electricity storage system currently available with facility for rapid response to consumer demand.

Accordingly, and bearing in mind the fact that wind turbines could continue operating in very windy weather thus avoiding costly shut down during stormy weather, it would appear logical to follow Statcraft's lead.

Such storage systems and related infrastructure may be costly to construct but the long-term increase in efficiency should be beneficial both economically and environmentally.

More efficiency could reduce the need for large numbers of new and often controversial wind farm developments.

John Doig,

25 Roman Road,

Ayr.

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